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Do we have to aim for the ideal weight?

We need to get rid of obesity and aim to become slim. - This conclusion can be easily found in today's media messages. Various books, articles and advertisements show us the ideal - and there is no lack of terminology to underline the importance of the statement. Many fitness centres focus on 'BMI' and include 'ideal weight'. Are these terms mainly indicative or are they really accurate?

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The term BMI or body mass index is not a recently created word. It goes back to the year 1832 and the Belgian mathematician Adolphe Quetelet. He developed various body metrics, including the "Quetelet index" which is better known as body mass index. This index moved into focus since the WHO, the World Health Organization, used it to classify obesity based on the BMI. According to this classification, you have an ideal weight when your BMI is settled between the values 18.5 and 25.

This brings us to two further terms, commonly used in this context: normal weight and ideal weight. To facilitate the calculation of these formula based values, there are special calculators available. When calculating the normal weight, you apply Broca's formula, which goes back to the surgeon Paul Broca. You take the body size in cm and subtract 100 from it. The normal weight of a man of 1.75 m size is therefore 75 kg. To calculate the ideal weight for men, you subtract 10% from the normal weight. For that of women, you subtract 15%. According to the WHO, people should aim to reach the ideal body weight, since this value is supposed to stand for the 'healthiest' weight.

How do you know now whether your own BMI is within the ideal range from 18.5 to 25? Values above 25 are already considered overweight and values below 18.5 are considered underweight. You can calculate the BMI by using the following formula: Take the weight in kilograms and divide it by the square of the height in meters. For example: a woman of 1.68 m size weighs 55 kg. Therefore, you calculate 1.68 x 1.68 = 2.82. Then 55: 2.82 = 19.5, which shows a value in the ideal range.

The advantage of diagnostic scales

However, it is not enough to draw conclusions solely based on these values. You also need to note that men normally have more muscle mass than women. Another aspect that the BMI calculation does not take into account is the distinction between fat and muscle mass. Thus, it may be that according to the WHO classification a very muscular man is considered as overweight.

At this point, body analysis scales or diagnostic scales prove helpful. These scales are equipped with electrodes to measure the electrical resistance in the body by means of bioelectric impedance analysis. Based on the results, the scale can provide exact information about the fat, muscle, bone and water content in the body. If you are looking for more information about your own body values, diagnostic scales are something you should look into. Some of them even provide you with information about your calorie requirement (basal metabolic rate = BMR and active metabolic rate = AMR) and other values.

We can see now that the information about your body weight alone is not enough to draw definite conclusions. However, the BMI or the ideal weight can be considered as a guiding value. Once you pay more attention to the weight, you can get to know better your own body and obtain more information. How much muscle mass is there in my body and what is the percentage of fat content? Is it maybe because of my heavy bones that I weigh so much? Answers to all of these questions help you to deal more clearly with the guiding values and to develop a concrete plan for necessary health measures.
Published on 17.09. by Eszter Langer