What Does BMI Stand For?
BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It’s a quick and easy method of determining the general ballpark of a person’s relative weight category, such as the difference between being overweight and obese. Instead of just looking at how much you weigh, it factors in your height as well, and provides you with an individual BMI score that places you in one of four categories: underweight; normal weight; overweight; or obese. It’s not a watertight diagnosis as your BMI doesn’t take into consideration gender, ethnicity or age, but it does allow us to draw some general conclusions and decide if further action is required.
Why do I need to know my BMI if I have diabetes?
Finding out your BMI allows you to make an initial assessment on whether your body fat is within a healthy range for your height. Excess body fat is one of the biggest Type 2 diabetes risk factors: it creates insulin resistance – a key contributory factor in the development of diabetes. If you’ve been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, then your body is already showing signs of insulin resistance.
The more body fat you have, the more insulin resistant you become, especially if you tend to carry the most fat around your middle. That’s why it’s particularly important for people with pre-diabetes to understand their BMI and aim to keep their weight within their recommended healthy range.
How do I calculate my BMI?
Working out your BMI is easy: all you need to do is enter your weight and height into an online BMI calculator. However, if you’re curious to know the method, here’s the calculation:
- First, divide your weight in kilograms by your height in centimetres squared
- Then, multiply the result by 10,000
Your calculation should look like: BMI = [weight(kg) ÷ height(cm)2] x 10,000
Example: A person weighing 67 kilograms who is 170 centimetres tall.
Calculation: Multiply 170 by 170 to get 28,900, then divide 67 by 28,900 to get 0.00231834. Multiply that by 10,000, which will result in 23.1833910, and round down to 23, which equals their BMI.
Alongside your results, many online BMI calculators will also provide you with a healthy weight range for your height.
What do my BMI results actually mean?
Now for the important bit: making sense of the numbers. Here’s a general guide to follow, although it should be noted that these are not hard-and-fast categories, especially for individuals who body build and may have a higher than average muscle mass:
|BMI of||May be considered|
|18.5 or less||Underweight|
|18.5 to 24.9||Normal or healthy weight|
|25 to 29.9||Overweight|
|30 or more||Obese|
For many adults 20 years and older, these categories may provide a general target weight range, although other factors, including age, gender, overall health and even waist circumference should also be considered.
What should I do if my BMI is too high?
Making positive changes to your diet and increasing your activity levels through gentle daily exercise are the key to reducing your BMI. They are also two of the most important elements of diabetes management and diabetes prevention.
If you’re not sure where to start, try implementing just a few simple steps each day to begin making small improvements to your lifestyle. It’s also a great idea to join a diabetes support network like Diabetes Australia’s National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS). It offers a range of useful resources and services such as healthy eating and physical activity programs where you can talk to dietitians and exercise physiologists face-to-face about how to get your BMI into the optimum range.
However, if you’re living with Type 2 diabetes and are on medication, be sure to talk to your diabetes care team before making any changes to your diabetes management routine, or if you have questions about your diabetes goals.