Monday, October 12, 2015

RD School: What is Body Mass Index (BMI)?

RD school is a segment that I have periodically on the blog to explain things about being a RD (registered dietitian) or dietitian-related medical nutrition therapy (MNT) topics. If you are in school or have children in school, you know it's time for midterm exams. So, I thought this would be a perfect time to feature RD school. Today, we are focusing on Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a tool I use every day as a RD.

BMI, or body mass index, is the ratio of your weight to your height. Health care professionals, like dietitians, use the BMI percentiles to help classify one's BMI into categories. The categories are underweight, healthy weight, overweight, and obese. These categories provide information about health, mobility, mortality, and risk of developing chronic diseases.

BMI sometimes gets a bad wrap. However, it is a useful tool to health care professionals for the assessment of the health of their patient. The key is that it is one of many tools that can be used to assess health.

For example, most NFL (National Football League) players will have a BMI percentile that would classify them as overweight or obese. However, this BMI percentile may be skewed by the higher percent of muscle mass present in professional athletes. Dietitians may use mid-arm circumference (MAC) or body fat testing to better investigate and determine the health of a professional athlete.

BMI is still a helpful tool to assess overall health when used in conjunction with other screening tools. Some other helpful health screening tools include but are not limited to: serum lab values (blood tests including cholesterol, blood sugar, vitamin or mineral levels, etc.), muscle mass or body fat percentages, and diet history.

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You can calculate your BMI; however, know that you are not just a number. If you have questions about your health, please contact your PCP (primary care physician) and ask to speak with a dietitian. Or, you can find a dietitian near you

I hope you enjoyed this feature on RD school. I hope you learned something new or that I was able debunked any false information about BMI. Comment below if there are any health-related topics you would like featured in a segment of RD school.

For more tips and tricks for healthy eating, follow RDtipoftheday on PinterestInstagram, and Twitter.

If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in:

Take the Healthy RD Challenge to Improve your Health One Day at a Time

Myths about Registered Dietitians

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