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Table of Contents

Executive Summary

  • Body mass index (BMI) measures the ratio of a person’s height to their weight and can provide an estimate of one’s level of body fat.
  • BMI and weight loss are often closely linked, but there are other ways to understand your weight loss needs and progress aside from BMI.
  • Because the body mass index comes with several limitations, like the ability to account for differences in body composition, the measurement is becoming less relied upon in the medical world.
  • There are several alternative measurements that can be used to provide an indicator of your health instead of BMI, like body fat percentage, bone density, and metabolic age.

If you’ve visited the doctor for a general check-up, there’s a good chance they’ve taken a measure of your body mass index (BMI). They’ve likely even told you how your BMI stacks up compared to the general population. BMI and weight loss often go hand-in-hand, as a higher BMI is seen as an indicator of higher levels of body fat, and an average BMI is considered “healthy”.

However, despite the fact that there is some correlation between the two, it’s not as clear-cut as the medical community would often lead you to believe. If you were discouraged by this conversation, you may be relieved to hear that BMI is not the end-all, be-all in determining how healthy you are.

Despite being used in many doctor’s offices, opinions surrounding BMI are changing. The truth is that BMI is not the best indicator of your overall health, and we will take a look at other measures that provide a better picture of your wellness.

What Is BMI?

Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of the ratio of a person’s height and weight to estimate their amount of body fat. A high BMI can often be a sign of high levels of body fat and offer a very basic idea of your body composition.  

However, it cannot specifically diagnose whether a person has too much body fat, an underlying health condition, or their general wellness. That said, it’s a common metric in the medical industry used as a reference point for gathering a basic understanding of someone’s health and weight.

BMI can be calculated using the following equations:

BMI = Body weight (kilograms) / height2 (meters) x 703


BMI = Body weight (lb) / height2 (inches)

Once you have a value using one of the above equations, body mass index is typically interpreted in the following ways:

  • Below 18.5 = Underweight
  • 18.5 – 24.9 = Healthy Weight
  • 25 – 29.9 = Overweight
  • 30+ = Obesity

Although these numbers may be able to provide a general idea about your health and body fat levels, you should be careful of putting too much stake in this number without having other important context about your health.

A Holistic Approach To Weight Loss

re:vitalize programs address both body and mind, empowering you with the foods, tools, and habits you need for long-term weight loss success.

Limitations of BMI in Health Assessment

Even with the popularity of BMI as a tool for health assessment, it’s still extremely limited as an actual indicator of someone’s health. BMI takes a one-size-fits-all approach to measuring health, when, in fact, health is not a one-size-fits-all concept.

BMI treats health and weight as simpler than it really is, as it only factors height and weight into a measure of body fat. Because there is no set definition for what defines what a healthy weight is, this approach raises several problems and provides several limitations:

  • BMI does not account for differences in body composition – Everyone has a different body, with different amounts of muscle mass, bone density, and hydration levels, all of which can factor into weight without changing health.
  • BMI does not distinguish between muscle mass and fat mass – For example, a person with a higher muscle density would likely be considered to have a high BMI. Some bodybuilders are even considered obese by the outdated metric, which should raise some eyebrows alone.
  • BMI does not account for fat distribution nor capture visceral fat – Varying levels of body fat are natural, and some types of body fat, like visceral fat, are worse than others. BMI does not differentiate between the different types.
  • BMI does not assess or factor metabolic health in its measurements – Metabolic health is an important factor in understanding your overall health and how your body stores and uses fat. Because BMI does not assess metabolic health, it paints an incomplete picture of your overall wellness.
  • There are ethical concerns in using a universal BMI standard – Different ethnic groups may have varying body compositions that influence their BMI. With BMI being a universal standard, it’s impossible to capture the differences between each person, which can lead to misclassifications of health concerns.

Alternative Health Indicators

The truth is that BMI is not the best measure of your overall health and wellness, or even your level of body fat. Fortunately, there are many other metrics that can provide context surrounding your level of body fat to help you understand your body besides just your height and weight.

Some better indicators are:

  • Waist-to-hip ratio (WHR)
  • Body fat percentage
  • Visceral fat levels
  • Bone density
  • Metabolic age
  • Biomarkers such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and heart rate

Receiving a comprehensive health analysis that accounts for the above factors is the best way to give you an understanding of your overall health and wellness. A more comprehensive analysis will give you better, more useful insights into how you can improve your health.

At re:vitalize weight loss and wellness, we perform a Body Composition Scan & Metabolic Age Analysis to understand your health from multiple angles. This analysis gives us a picture of key metrics like body fat percentage, visceral fat levels, and metabolic health. This information provides a better benchmark of your health and allows you to take more targeted, informed steps to promote weight loss and overall wellness.

Shifting Perspectives in Healthcare

Perspectives surrounding BMI in the healthcare world are changing. Although BMI has been used for understanding health and wellness for a long period of time, more and more practitioners have started to recognize and acknowledge its flaws.

In 2023, the American Medical Association released a report clarifying that BMI is an imperfect way to measure body fat for a variety of groups. The report addressed that BMI does not appropriately account for differences in race, ethnic groups, sexes, genders, and even age. 

In recent years, healthcare providers have begun adopting more holistic approaches and perspectives regarding indicators of overall health. More healthcare providers are implementing more initiatives toward individualized health plans and using alternative measures to diagnose obesity.

With the recognition of varying patient body types and definitions of health, healthcare providers are better able to serve their patients with treatment plans and programs that actually meet their unique needs instead of relying on a generalized number.

Measure & Improve Overall Health with Our Holistic Wellness Programs

Although BMI is a quick way to gather an estimate of your body fat and composition, it is far from a complete and accurate view of your wellness. Instead, it’s important that you gain an accurate understanding of your body composition in context using important biomarkers like muscle mass, bone density, and hydration levels.

At re:vitalize weight loss and wellness, we don’t believe that a number like BMI is enough to gather a real measurement of your health or decide if you’re at a healthy weight. We look at indicators like your metabolic health, unique biomarkers, and nutritional needs to gain a true understanding of your overall health and wellness.

We’ll also perform a BioScan™ using our unique technology, measuring which nutrients are optimal for your weight loss and wellness journey. With all this information, we’ll build a tailored holistic weight loss program that actually works for you and brings results. To make real lifestyle change even more accessible, we also offer virtual weight loss programs and our flexible lifestyle program.

Schedule a consultation with our team to receive a metabolic age analysis, better understand your overall health, and start your journey to a healthy weight.

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