Body Mass Index: How Accurate is BMI? (cont.)

One thing that experts agree on is that weight is only one factor in our risk for disease. When it comes to evaluating weight and its impact on health, your percentage of body fat, waist circumference, BMI, and physical activity patterns are all important.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends that health care providers assess BMI, waist circumference, and any other risk factors for obesity-related conditions. Combining all of the information provides the best assessment.

What Can You Do?

The first step toward shrinking your waistline and getting your BMI in line is to start eating a healthier diet and getting regular exercise. Preventing any further weight gain and slowly reducing weight into a healthier range is an excellent goal.

And while you might want to lose more, dropping as little as 5%-10% of your body weight can bring dramatic improvements in blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar.

Nonas recommends four steps to a healthy lifestyle:

  • Being physically active.
  • Making healthy food choices.
  • Avoiding overeating.
  • Scheduling an annual physical examination.

"These are the vital parts to maintaining a long and healthy life," she says.

Originally Published February 27, 2007.
Reviewed February 12, 2008.

SOURCES: Adams, K.F., Schatzkin, A., Harris, T.B., et al, New England Journal of Medicine, Aug. 24, 2006; 355; 763-778. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Healthy People 2010 web site. CDC web site. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute web site. Michael Roizen, MD, Cleveland Clinic; co-author, You: On a Diet.; Cathy Nonas, MS, RD, American Dietetic Association spokeswoman; director, Diabetes and Obesity Programs, North General Hospital, New York.

©2007 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.

Last Editorial Review: 2/12/2008