Tag Archives: weight loss

4 Unconventional Things You Didn’t Know Were Making You Fat

The human body is a strange and wondrous place. There are many reasons why a person might gain weight. Eating the wrong kind of food, the wrong amount of food, or not enough exercise are well established reasons. However, there are some no-so-common reasons that might play a role as well.

Road Traffic Noise

Exposure to a combination of road traffic, rail, and aircraft noise may pose the greatest risk of acquiring a spare tire — otherwise known as central obesity, and thought to be one of the most harmful types of fat deposition around the body. In a recent study researchers assessed how much road traffic, rail, and aircraft noise 5075 people living in five suburban and rural areas around Stockholm, Sweden, had been exposed to since 1999. The analysis indicated no link between road traffic noise and BMI. But there was an association between road traffic noise and waist size, with a 0.21 cm increase for every additional 5 dB increase in exposure, although this was only significant among women. Similarly, there was a link to waist:hip ratio, with a change of 0.16 for every 5 dB increase in noise exposure to road traffic; this association was stronger in men.

What gives? Noise exposure may be an important physiological stressor and bump up the production of the hormone cortisol, high levels of which are thought to have a role in fat deposition around the middle of the body, researchers suggest. Additionally, noise exposure might disrupt sleep, another known factor to contribute to weight gain.

Too Many Food Choices

A new study in mice by researchers in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine has shown that the environment in which a child lives may be an equal if not stronger force in determining obesity than their mother’s diet. Researchers found that having too many food choices increases the obesity problem. In fact, researchers found that having a choice of a high-fat and low-fat diet does not help — offspring in this situation tended to eat even more. Their findings were recently released in the journal Endocrinology. “We like variety,” said Deborah Good, an author of the paper and an associate professor of human nutrition, foods, and exercise at Virginia Tech. “But when there is a choice, we eat more than when there is not any variety.” Moral of the story? Simple is better for our waistlines.

The Inability To Stay Warm

A new study suggests that a biological inability to create sufficient core body heat could be linked to the obesity epidemic. The study found that obesity is associated with a significant reduction of body core temperature during daytime hours. Journal Editor Francesco Portaluppi explains that the reduced ability of obese people to spend energy as heat compared to lean individuals could result in long term weight gain (about 2 kg (4.5 lb.)) per year, depending on the lifestyle. “Since body core temperature represents a marker of energy expenditure, results from this study suggest that a diurnal thermogenic handicap can play a crucial role in favoring weight gain in obese subjects,” said article co-author Pietro Cortelli, MD, Ph.D. The fix? Generate more body heat. And how does one do that? Exercise of course!

Environmental Pollution

A team of Spanish scientists, which includes several researchers from the University of Granada, has confirmed that there is a relation between the levels of certain environmental pollutants that a person accumulates in his or her body and their level of obesity. Subjects with more pollutants in their bodies tend to have higher levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, which are important risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The research has analyzed the levels of pollutants accumulated in adipose tissue (fat) in nearly 300 men and women, who were attended in the surgery services of two hospitals in the province of Granada (Spain). The substances analyzed, known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), can remain in the environment for years, even decades, without degrading.

“Humans are exposed to POPs mainly through diet. Besides, POPs accumulate gradually in body fat, and this is the reason why the median levels in our study give us an idea of an individual’s accumulated exposition over a number of years,” says Juan Pedro Arrebola, the main author of the article. There is evidence that human exposure to certain chemical substances called “obesogenic” could favor the growth and proliferation of adipocytes (fat cells), and provoke therefore an increase in body fat.

Do your best to avoid exposing yourself unnecessarily to chemicals that might be problematic. Perhaps the most powerful way to do this is avoid processed food which is loaded with these chemicals from their own packaging.

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Are you eating your way to a hormonal imbalance? 50 foods to avoid.

PROPYL PARABEN

Are you eating an endocrine disruptor?

The pastry you’re thinking about buying may contain the preservative propyl paraben, linked to disruptions in hormone signaling.

According to ingredient data obtained by EWG’s Food Scores: Rate Your Plate, an online database and app that helps consumers eat healthier, propyl paraben is in 49 widely-available processed foods, including Sara Lee cinnamon rolls, Weight Watchers cakes and La Banderita Corn Tortillas.

Last year, EWG turned the spotlight on propyl paraben in its Dirty Dozen Guide To Food Additives because the federal Food and Drug Administration has listed its use in food as “Generally Recognized As Safe.” Despite mounting evidence that propyl paraben disrupts the endocrine system, the FDA has failed to take action to eliminate its use in food or reassess its safety.

In 2002 researchers at the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Public Health discovered that propyl paraben decreased sperm counts in young rats at and below the concentrations which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers safe for human consumption in food (Oishi 2002; 21CFR184.1670).

Other researchers have confirmed propyl paraben’s effects on the endocrine system. It acts as a synthetic estrogenic compound and can alter hormone signaling and gene expression (Routledge 1998; Terasaka 2006; Vo 2011; Wróbel 2014). A recent study by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health suggested that exposure to propyl paraben might be associated with diminished fertility (Smith 2013).

Proper endocrine signaling is particularly important during critical windows of development—while in the womb and during childhood and adolescence. Chemicals that disrupt hormone signaling can lead to adverse effects on development, reproduction, and the neurological and immune systems.

Citing the study by the researchers in Tokyo, the European Food Safety Authority issued an advisory in 2004 that the presumed safe exposure level for propyl paraben in food was no longer valid because it affected sex hormones and the male reproductive organs in young rats (EFSA 2004). Based on that advice, in 2006, regulators removed propyl paraben from the list of food additives authorized for use in the European Union.

Propyl paraben is starting to disappear from some cosmetics, so it is a wonder that it is still allowed in food. If you browse the personal care product aisles in any drug store, you are likely to see labels advertising that certain body washes, lotions, and other items are “paraben free”. Under pressure from EWG and other health advocates, in August 2012 Johnson & Johnson voluntarily pledged to remove this and other members of the paraben family from all its baby products. Brands such as Alba, Origins and Burt’s Bees don’t use parabens at all.

Yet Americans are still widely exposed to this chemical. In 2010 research led by Antonia Calafat, Ph.D., a respected chemist at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reported that 92.7 percent of Americans tested had propyl paraben in their urine (Calafat 2010).

via Propyl Paraben | EWG.

50 Foods Containing Propyl Paraben

  • Amport Foods Chocolate & Nut Trail Mix
  • Archer Farms Gourmet Dessert Cookies
  • Arizona Snack Company Canyon Runner II Trail
  • Arizona Snack Company Sweet Energy Trail
  • Cafe Valley Apple Spice Mini Muffins Apple Spice
  • Cafe Valley Banana Nut Mini Muffins
  • Cafe Valley Blueberry Mini Muffins
  • Cafe Valley Cake Pumpkin Cream Cheese
  • Cafe Valley Chocolate Chips Mini Muffins
  • Cafe Valley Corn Mini Muffins
  • Cafe Valley Lemon Poppyseed Mini Muffins
  • Cafe Valley Orange Cranberry Mini Muffins
  • Cafe Valley Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins
  • Creative Occasions Old Fashioned Carrot Cream Cheese Cake
  • Elizabeth’s Naturals Psychedelic Sunday Mix
  • Emerald Breakfast On The Go Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Nut & Granola Mix
  • Energy Club Fancy Mojo Mix
  • Energy Club Nuts N Chocolate Blend
  • Entenmann’s Coconut Crunch Donuts
  • Essential Everyday Classic Trail Mix
  • Island Snacks Fancy Chocolate Mix
  • La Banderita White Corn Tortillas
  • La Banderita Yellow Corn Tortillas
  • Little Debbie Pecan Spinwheels
  • Newton’s Naturals Get The Munchies Trail Mix
  • Nuevo Leon Tortillas
  • Oh Yeah! Candies Chocolate Caramel
  • Ole Mexican Foods Corn Tortillas
  • Patissa Pumpkin Pie Cream Puffs
  • Premium Orchard Rainbow Trail Mix
  • Private Selection Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
  • Quality Club Deluxe Moxxi Mix
  • Roundy’s Cranberry Trail Mix
  • Roundy’s Pak O Snax
  • Sara Lee Cinnamon Rolls
  • Sara Lee Honey Glazed Buns
  • Setton Farms Hiker’s Trail Mix
  • Superior Chocolate Nut Trail Mix
  • Superior Mini Chocolate Eclairs
  • Sweet P’s Bake Shop Black & White Cookies
  • Tropical Corn Tortillas, Traditional Style
  • Turano Brat & Sausage Rolls
  • Weight Watchers Carrot Crème Cake
  • Weight Watchers Chocolate Crème Cake
  • Weight Watchers Golden Sponge Cake
  • Weight Watchers Lemon Creme Cake
  • Weight Watchers Red Velvet Creme Cake
  • Weis Cross’n Country
  • Weis Milk Chocolate Candies

References:

Calafat AM, Ye X, Wong LY, Bishop AM, Needham LL. 2010. Urinary concentrations of four parabens in the U.S. population: NHANES 2005-2006. Environ Health Perspect. 118(5):679-85.

21CFR184.1670. Available: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=184.1670 [Accessed February 7, 2015]

EFSA. 2004. Opinion of the Scientific Panel on food additives, flavourings, processing aids and materials in contact with food (AFC) related to para hydroxybenzoates (E 214-219). EFSA Journal. 83, 1-26.

Oishi S. Effects of propyl paraben on the male reproductive system. Food Chem Toxicol. 2002 Dec;40(12):1807-13.

Routledge EJ, Parker J, Odum J, Ashby J, Sumpter JP. 1998. Some alkyl hydroxy benzoate preservatives (parabens) are estrogenic. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 153(1):12-9.

Smith KW, Souter I, Dimitriadis I, Ehrlich S, Williams PL, Calafat AM, Hauser R. 2013. Urinary paraben concentrations and ovarian aging among women from a fertility center. Environ Health Perspect. 121(11-12):1299-305.

Terasaka S, Inoue A, Tanji M, Kiyama R. 2006. Expression profiling of estrogen-responsive genes in breast cancer cells treated with alkylphenols, chlorinated phenols, parabens, or bis- and benzoylphenols for evaluation of estrogenic activity. Toxicol Lett. 163(2):130-41. Epub 2005 Nov 8.

Vo TT, Jung EM, Choi KC, Yu FH, Jeung EB. 2011. Estrogen receptor α is involved in the induction of Calbindin-D(9k) and progesterone receptor by parabens in GH3 cells: a biomarker gene for screening xenoestrogens. Steroids. 76(7):675-81.

Wróbel AM, Gregoraszczuk EL. 2014. Actions of methyl-, propyl- and butylparaben on estrogen receptor-α and -β and the progesterone receptor in MCF-7 cancer cells and non-cancerous MCF-10A cells. Toxicol Lett. 230(3):375-381

Dr. Court’s Comments:

Endocrine disruptors like parabens and others such as BPA, PFOA, phthalates,  and PCBs are potent chemicals that surround us ubiquitously. Their ability to disrupt our hormonal system has lead to changes in how our bodies function. BPA was originally created as a synthetic estrogen, albeit a weak one. However, because we are exposed to it all the time, those weak estrogenic effects are magnified. BPA, PFOA, phthalates and PCBs are classified as obesogens. That means they cause weight gain. They do this by increasing the number of fat cells we have and increasing our ability to store fat. More fat cells storing more fat means we are increasingly overweight. Avoidance of these chemicals is probably impossible, however, do your best to minimize exposure. First and foremost, avoid processed foods. They are loaded with these chemicals. Secondly, buy products that specify ‘BPA free’ or ‘phthalate free.’ Last, but not least, exercise regularly to assist your body in detoxifying you system.

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Follow All The Rules And STILL Can’t Lose Weight? This Might Be Why.

Can you relate to any of the following?

  • I follow all the rules, but I still can’t lose the weight.
  • I’m just getting old and my metabolism is slow. It’s genetic. There’s nothing I can do.
  • I’ve tried everything to lose weight. Maybe I need to accept myself as fat, and give up my skinny clothes.
  • Nutrition strategies that work for others don’t seem to apply to me.
  • I lose 5 pounds, and then I regain 7. It’s so frustrating!

These are comments that I hear frequently from my patients and online community, and most of them don’t know an important secret: the reason you’re weight loss resistant is that your hormones are out of whack.

Discover the top three hormones that are the most likely culprits when it comes to your difficulty with weight loss.

When it comes to women and weight, there are seven hormones that make losing weight very challenging if not impossible—when they are out of balance. In this article, I want to show you the top three hormones that are the most likely culprits when it comes to your difficulty with weight loss, and how you can begin to reset them.

Fat Storage Hormone #1: Estrogen Dominance

Estrogen is the female hormone that gives women breasts and hips, and it keeps joints lubricated.

Men have it to but at far lower levels. But both men and women are at risk of estrogen overload, which is having too much estrogen in the body—even in menopause.

Here’s one action you can take today to lower your estrogen levels and help you lose weight:

Eat a pound of vegetables per day. The fiber from the vegetables will help excrete estrogen so it doesn’t keep circulating in your body like bad karma. Aim for 35-45 grams of fiber per day for women, and 40-50 grams per day for men, but slowly increase in 5-gram increments each day to get to the goal without gas or bloating.

Fat Storage Hormone #2: Insulin Resistance

One in two Americans have some degree of diabesity, which is diabetes + obesity. When you’re overweight or skinny fat (normal weight but you have too much fat mass), insulin becomes imbalanced and your cells become numb to the hormone. As a result, you experience blood sugar highs and lows, and you store fat because your glucose regulator is broken.

There are many ways to reset your insulin, but a personal favorite is to drink filtered water with apple cider vinegar. A recent study found that consuming two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before a high carb meal significantly reduces blood glucose levels in people with insulin resistance. In fact, apple cider vinegar might work as well as prescription drugs at fixing your blood sugar regulation.

Fat Storage Hormone #3: Cortisol Overwhelm

You make cortisol in response to stress, but most of us run around stressed all the time. All those stress hormones wreak havoc over time, and make you store fat—especially in your belly. High cortisol is also linked to depression, food addiction, and sugar cravings, so that you overeat the wrong foods like cookies and processed foods. What’s the net result? You get fat.

To reset your cortisol, you need to hit the pause button on your caffeine intake. Slowly wean off of caffeine over three days, and notice how your sleep and stress levels improve! There’s many more targeted suggestions in my new book, but kick the caffeine first.

My mission is to help people who struggle with weight issues from hormone imbalance. Understanding that permanent weight loss occurs as a result of hormone balance has helped so many of my patients and online community finally get their weight under control and break through weight loss resistance When you follow the right program, guided by a trusted mentor and armed with the best knowledge, it’s possible to lose the weight that’s burdened you for so long—and keep it off forever.

via Follow All The Rules And STILL Can’t Lose Weight? This Might Be Why….

Dr. Court’s comments: 

Also, consider a stool test. Stool testing looks at bacterial balance. Research is showing that the bacteria in your gut may affect how you metabolize and absorb food. In some cases, bacterial imbalances may actually cause you to absorb more calories than are necessary.

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Do Antibiotics Raise Diabetes Risk via Gut Microbiota?

People who take multiple courses of antibiotics may face an increased risk of developing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, potentially through alterations in gut microbiota, conclude US researchers.

The team, led by Ben Boursi, MD, a postdoctoral researcher in the department of gastroenterology at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, found that the risk of diabetes was increased by up to 37%, depending on the type of antibiotic and the number of courses prescribed.

“Overprescription of antibiotics is already a problem around the world as bacteria become increasingly resistant to their effects,” commented Dr Boursi in a statement.

“Our findings are important, not only for understanding how diabetes may develop, but as a warning to reduce unnecessary antibiotic treatments that might do more harm than good.”

The study was published online ahead of print March 24 in the European Journal of Endocrinology.

The More Courses of Antibiotics, the Greater the Risk

Dr Boursi explained that studies both in animal models and humans have shown an association between changes in gut microbiota in response to antibiotic exposure and obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes.

Speaking to Medscape Medical News, he noted: “In mice, we know that germ-free mice are lean and, by fecal transplantation, we can transmit obesity to them. We also know that low dose of penicillin may induce obesity in mice models.”

He added that there have been several studies in humans indicating that exposure to antibiotics in early childhood is associated with an increased risk of obesity in later life, while other investigations have reported differences in gut microbiota between people with and without diabetes.

To investigate further, Dr Boursi and colleagues conducted a nested case-control study using data from the Health Improvement Network (THIN), a UK population-based database, from which they identified 1,804,170 patients with acceptable medical records.

As diabetes is associated with an increased risk of infection, the team wanted to exclude all cases with prediabetes or undiagnosed diabetes. To do that, they removed all patients diagnosed with diabetes within 183 days of starting follow-up and included only patients with exposure to antibiotics more than 1 year prior to the index date.

From the original cohort, they were able to select 208,002 diabetes patients and 815,576 controls matched for age, sex, general practice site, and duration of follow-up before the index date.

Conditional logistic regression analysis revealed that exposure to a single antibiotic prescription was not associated with an increased risk of diabetes, adjusted for body mass index (BMI), smoking, last blood glucose level, and the number of infections before the index date, alongside a history of coronary artery disease and hyperlipidemia.

However, treatment with two to five courses of antibiotics was linked to an increased risk of diabetes with penicillin, cephalosporins, macrolides, and quinolones, at adjusted odds ratios (ORs) ranging from 1.08 for penicillin to 1.15 for quinolones.

The highest risk for diabetes was seen among people who received more than five courses of quinolones, at an adjusted OR of 1.37. An increased risk of diabetes was also seen in patients who took more than five courses of tetracyclines, at an adjusted OR of 1.21.

Interestingly, the researchers were unable to find an association between diabetes risk and treatment with imidazole, antiviral drugs, and antifungals, regardless of the number of courses.

To account for further possible confounding factors, the researchers repeated the analysis only in individuals without skin or urinary-tract infections, which are more common among diabetes patients. This had no impact on the results.

Next Steps

When the analysis was restricted to type 1 diabetes, the risk was increased only following exposure to more than five courses of penicillin or two to five courses of cephalosporin, at odds ratios of 1.41 and 1.63, respectively.

Commenting on the findings, study coauthor Yu-Xiao Yang, MD, assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania, pointed out their investigation was observational in nature.

“We are not able to establish cause and effect necessarily, but it is actually pretty consistent with the experimental data, which is more definitive in terms of the animal data than in humans.”

Dr Yang said that the next step for the team will be to expand their focus, as the antibiotics data “provide indirect evidence suggesting the importance of gut microbiota on metabolic outcomes, including diabetes.”

Describing their findings as “important evidence,” he concluded: “Based on this indirect evidence and existing data in animals, we are planning to more directly investigate the effect of altered microbe environments in humans.”

The work was supported by the National Center for Research Resources and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the National Institutes of Health. The authors have reported no relevant financial relationships.

Eur J Endocrinol. 2015. Published online March 24, 2015. Abstract

via Do Antibiotics Raise Diabetes Risk via Gut Microbiota?.

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Muscle Mass Beats BMI as Longevity Predictor – Who Knew!?

Fit at 70!I’ve written a couple of times (here and here) about my dislike of the imperfect science of body mass index. In particular, I’ve stated that it does not accurately assess the elderly because of low muscle mass. The elderly are likely to have a “healthy” BMI despite being anything but. As people age they lose weight through muscle loss. This brings their BMI down and may even bring it into what is considered an optimal range. The problem is muscle mass loss reduces strength, which increases the likelihood of falls and a reduced ability to exercise. The last point is particularly problematic.

Now new research shows that when it comes to longevity, a focus on weight loss may be misplaced. Because BMI isn’t actually a very reliable indicator of life span. A more useful measure, some physicians say, might be muscle mass. Researchers analyzed BMI and muscle mass data from more than 3,600 seniors in a long-term study. And they tracked which seniors had died, a decade later. Turns out BMI wasn’t much good at predicting chance of death.

But muscle mass was: more muscle meant better odds of survival. The study appears in The American Journal of Medicine. [Preethi Srikanthan and Arun S. Karlamangla,Muscle Mass Index as a Predictor of Longevity in Older-Adults]. For more information see here.

Critics argue that it’s nearly impossible for the elderly to build muscle. I think they are missing the point. It’s not necessarily that the elderly need to bulk up. It’s that they need to minimize muscle loss. This is done through resistance training. Anyone, yes even the elderly, can resistance train. By doing so muscle loss is minimized. This may mean you don’t fit into the BMI scale perfectly, however, it does mean you are healthier. So, here’s to weight lifting!

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Why Your Pants Shouldn’t Fit!

Have you heard about a metric used by health professionals called the waist to hip ratio? It’s a measure of abdominal obesity. Abdominal obesity is strongly associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and death, even after controlling for other factors like overall weight. In the waist to hip ratio, waist circumference and waist size are compared to hip size. Several organizations have defined cut points for abdominal obesity with different cut points for men and women. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the waist circumference should be measured at the midpoint between the lower margin of the last palpable rib and the top of the iliac crest, using a stretch‐resistant tape that provides a constant 100 g tension. Hip circumference should be measured around the widest portion of the buttocks, with the tape parallel to the floor. Practically, however, the waist is more conveniently measured simply at the smallest circumference of the natural waist, usually just above the belly button, and the hip circumference may likewise be measured at its widest part of the buttocks or hip. The WHO states that abdominal obesity is defined as a waist–hip ratio above 0.90 for males and above 0.86 for females. In layman’s terms, if your belly is bigger than your butt, you’ve got a problem.

I recently measured my waist to hip ratio. It was about 0.83 – well within the healthy range. Here’s how I found it. My waist measures about 34 inches. My hips measure about 41 inches. If you divide 34 by 41 you get 0.82926 repeating or about 0.83. For reference I’m about 5’11”, 187 pounds and about 18% body fat.

So what the heck does this have to do with my pants?

Everything! It’s a quick, down and dirty way to assess your waist to hip ratio. When I buy pants, the waist NEVER fits. It’s ALWAYS too big. This is a good thing. The reason it’s too big is I have to be able to fit them over my legs and butt. If you talk to anyone who works out or is athletic, they’ll tell you the same thing. If a pair of pants fits on the waist, it’s super tight in the legs and butt. If it fits the butt and legs, the waist is enormous. It’s a good, if not maddening, problem to have. Here’s what I mean:

Just about all of my pants are 1-3 inches too big in the waist, by they fit everywhere else!

Just about all of my pants are 1-3 inches too big in the waist, by they fit everywhere else!

This is what you don’t want:

This man's waist is clearly larger than his hips.

This man’s waist is clearly larger than his hips.

Everyone should have an idea of what their waist to hip ratio is. It’s a simple and easy metric for assessing your general health. Don’t want to take the time to measure it? Fine, how do your pants fit? Are the waists too big but legs and butt just fine? GREAT. Are you having trouble finding pants to fit your waist because when they fit your waist they fall off the rest of you? Uh-oh. Time to make some lifestyle changes and get healthy!

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I’m Overweight.

Dr. C

Or at least you would think so if you looked at my body mass index (BMI). I have written about the very imperfect science of the BMI scale before here on my blog, but I thought it deserved to be revisited. BMI is basically a height to weight ratio that comes up with a number designed to make it easy for clinicians to decide if a person is overweight or obese. Before the BMI scale was invented it was hard to assess someone’s weight and say that it was appropriate because height is also an important factor in weight. BMI combined those two.

Calculating BMI is relatively simple. You need your weight in pounds and your height in inches. Take your weight and multiply it by 703. Take your height and multiply it by itself (height squared). Now divide the first number by the second number and you have your BMI. To see my calculations or do your own click this link. My BMI falls in the “overweight category” with a score of 26.2. However, my body fat percentage is about 18%. This is well within the acceptable range for a 33-year-old man. (And I clearly do not look overweight!)

BMI misses many things when calculating whether someone is at the proper weight.

The problem for some people, like athletes, it does not take into account muscle mass. A person that is heavily muscled will always be overweight according to the BMI. As a matter of fact, I have been considered “overweight” since college despite always being is relatively good shape. If we look at professional level athletes, most of them would be considered obese!

I understand that not everyone is an elite athlete. What about the elderly? BMI is not ideal for them either. In the United States that equates to about 43 million people. Many times an elderly person will fit nicely into the BMI by being considered “ideal weight” for their height. This can be significantly misleading. Why? In the elderly muscle mass begins to drop. It happens to all of us. However, with this drop in muscle mass comes a drop in weight. As weight is lost a person is likely to fall into the “ideal weight” category even though they should be concerned about muscle mass loss. This loss in muscle mass causes a loss in strength and stability, increasing the risk of falls and increasing the risk of osteoporosis. Another problem with muscle loss is the change in your body composition. As muscle mass is lost one’s body fat percentage increases. Body fat percentage is a great indicator of health. The lower it is (within reason) the healthier you are, generally speaking.

BMI also fails to take into account many other health factors like diet, exercise, inflammatory markers, nutrient status, stress load, chemical exposure, social well-being, mood stability, and a whole host of other things we know have a large impact on our health. However, it is still widely used as a primary assessment of one’s health. As I said, it’s an imperfect science. In my opinion, it’s so imperfect it should be eliminated.

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