Is there an alternative to measuring body mass index?

Although there are no other methods to measure BMI, there are alternate methods for assessing obesity risk factor and to track weight loss results. Other common methods used include skin fold calipers, waist to hip ratio, and circumference measurements. Skin fold calipers are a method of measuring the fat in specific areas, putting the sum into a graph, and determining body fat. Waist to hip ratio is a method of measuring the circumference of an individual’s waist compared to the circumference of the hips. Men should have a reading of not more than .95 and women not more than .80. Waist to hip ratio is a good method for determining risk of cardio vascular disease. It is also possible to obtain a body fat reading based off of circumference measurements. This calculation is based on body part dimensions and the change in those dimensions over time. Body mass index, often referred to as BMI, is a measurement designed to estimate a healthy body weight based on a person’s height. To find BMI, divide weight (in kilograms) by height (in meters squared). The risk of obesity-related diseases begins to increase if the BMI is 25 and becomes a severe risk if the BMI is greater than 35.
Eric Beard
Sports Medicine
As a personal trainer I never use BMI on it's own to track my client's progress. If my client is trying to lose body fat, or "lose weight and tone up" as I commonly hear, then I use several approaches to gauging their success. We use the scale to measure body weight, skin fold calipers to measure body composition (body fat) and circumference measurements to track changes in specific regions of the body. These three tools paint a detailed picture of the changes that my clients are making along with monitoring their BMI. I also like to track their energy levels, quality of sleep and how their clothes fit. I do chart and share changes in resting heart rate, blood pressure, flexibility, cardiorespiratory health and strength with my clients to round out their wellness profile along with enjoyment and ease of completion of activities of daily living and recreational activities. Basically, does their hard work translate to the things that matter to them? Is it easier to pick up their kids, play golf, zip their pants or go up a flight of stairs without stopping for a rest? That is true success! 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.