With all the different types of health calculators – body mass index, body fat percent, waist-to-hip ratio – it can be hard to pinpoint exactly how healthy you are. Here’s a break down:
(graph via: HCCUA)
Body Mass Index (BMI):
Your BMI is a number calculated from your weight and height. It indicates whether a person is underweight, normal, overweight, or obese. Obesity’s defined as excess body fat. Because the BMI formula utilizes only weight and height measurements, it doesn’t take into consideration body types or muscle mass. Often athletes that calculate their BMI fall under the obese category because muscle weighs more than fat – so your BMI number should be looked at only as a first screening. However, it shouldn’t be taken as a complete indicator of your holistic health. You may have a “normal” BMI, but still be extremely unhealthy, especially if you hold visceral fat, excess intra-abdominal fat that surround the internal organs.
Another way to assess your weight is to measure your waist size. Abdominal fat stored around the waist, rather than the hips indicates a higher risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
- A man who has a waist circumference more than 40 in.
- A woman who has a waist circumference more than 35 in.
To measure your waist circumference (according to Wed MD): Wrap a tape measure around your hip bone, level to your navel. Don’t hold your breath and make sure the tape is parallel to the floor.
Body Fat Percentage:
This is exactly what the name describes it as – the percentage of fat your body has. What’s important to remember is that fat is vital, so it’s not always about having the least amount of fat possible, but to have a healthy amount of fat. Also, men and women have vastly different fat percentage ranges because of their build. There are many different ways to measure your body fat percentage, including a skin-fold caliber or a hydrostatic weighing. Online calculators are not recommended, since they tend to be inaccurate. Once you have figured out your number you can then decipher your body fat percentage. This is where body fat percentage becomes more helpful then BMI to figure out general health. If you have two women – both 5 foot 4 inches, 130 pounds – they’ll both have a BMI of 22, which places them in the “normal” range. However, one woman could be completely sedentary and hold a higher body fat percentage than the other woman who, let’s say, exercises daily.
Physical Activity and Eating Habits:
Ultimately, everyone has different body types, eating habits, and fitness lifestyle. No one test will be able to tell you how healthy you are, though they may give you more insight and encourage you to eat healthier. Doctors have always recommend healthy eating (more vegetables) and an active lifestyle. It’s obvious that a tiny-built person, who eats only fast food and never works out, will be less healthy than a person who might have a larger build, but exercises daily and eats fresh fruits and produce. That’s why it’s important to be skeptical of numbers, and start by practicing healthy lifestyle choices.
At in.gredients, we not only want to take care of our environment. We want to take care of the next generation. When we open this fall, expect some fun, educational events at our store that promote healthy eating and invite our East Austin neighbors to be a part of building healthy lifestyles.