Body mass index a key measure for health

Body mass index (BMI) is one indicator of health; weight loss can help you reach a healthy BMI.

The Michigan Health and Wellness 4x4 Plan is made up of four health behaviors and four health measures that can benefit every Michigan citizen. The plan was developed to combat the rising incidence of adult and child obesity in the state. By following the plan each of us can improve our health and avoid obesity.

The four health behaviors are: maintain a healthy weight, engage in regular exercise, get an annual physical exam and avoid all tobacco. The four health measures are body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar/glucose level. Let’s take a look at body mass index.

Body mass index is a measure of body fat. It is determined by an individual’s height and weight. Healthy adults have BMIs between 18.5 and 24.9. A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight and a BMI greater than 30 is considered obese.

Why is BMI important? It has been found that people with BMIs in the healthy range have reduced blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels. They also have less chance of developing heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and kidney disease.

If your BMI is greater than 25, you may reduce your risk of developing Type II diabetes by more than 50 percent if you lower your BMI by five to 10 percent. You can also reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer with this moderate reduction in BMI. Since you can’t change your height, the only way to reduce BMI is to reduce your weight. A five percent weight loss for a person who weighs 200 pounds is 10 pounds. That may not be enough to bring a person out of the “overweight” category, but it goes a long way in reducing the individual’s chances of developing diabetes, heart disease or cancer.

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