This section of my website used to be dedicated to triathlon training, personal race results and certification reviews, like Turbo Kick. I am expanding it to include more generic health & fitness topics. Also, I talk a lot about "D" -- he's my husband (Dave Liu)!

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Asian BMI (Body Mass Index) Guidelines

BMI (Body Mass Index) is a measure of a person's weight in relation to height, not body composition (important distinction here). It's calculated by dividing your weight in kg by your the square of your height in meters (so the units are kg/m2). For you non-metric folks out there, 1 kg = 2.2 lbs and 1 inch = 2.54cm. Confused? Just hop on over to this online BMI calculator which will do the math for you and provides some guidelines for interpreting your score. I'm pleased to see that the site responsibly puts a disclaimer that "[t]hese values do not apply to athletes and body builders, pregnant and nursing women, the frail or elderly or people under 18".

I have questioned the BMI guidelines from the first time I saw them because I thought they were overstated for Asian populations. I'm a small-framed Asian Canadian, and think that the ranges should be lower for me. But by how much? I've finally found supporting research that "...(BMI) for Asian populations should be narrowed to 18.5-23 kg/m2". Thus, an Asian with a BMI > 23 kg/m2 is considered overweight (the benchmark is 25 kg/m2 for Caucasians). In fact, according to this CBS news article, a series of independent surveys in 10 Asian countries showed that because "...Asians had more fat content compared to Caucasians ... a BMI of 25 was way above overweight for Asians." [emphasis added by me]

Speaking of BMI calculators for different demographics, I've also found a BMI calculator for kids by Baylor College of Medicine that uses gender, "race" (hate that word) and age as parameters. I can't vouch for the calculator's accuracy so use at your own risk.

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