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Body Mass Index - otherwise known as BMI - is a health assessment tool many of you will be familiar with.

It is often used by medical professionals to calculate your body mass using 2 simple measurements – height & weight – reducing you to a number by which they will decide if you are healthy or not. So how did BMI come about?

In the mid-1800’s, a Belgian astronomer, mathematician, statistician & sociologist, Aldophe Quetelet, developed what he referred to as the Quetelet Index – using height & weight measurements to discover the “socially ideal human person”.

Fast forward to the 1970’s, and Physiologist Ancel Keys then mentions BMI in a research paper as being “as good as any tool as an indicator of obesity” and this is essentially when BMI became a key assessment tool in healthcare settings.

I have a BIG problem with using BMI as an assessment tool! Whilst its simplicity to calculate makes it an efficient and quick tool to use in clinical practice, this information is telling only a fraction of your overall health story.

Two different people could be the same height and weight, and therefore have the same BMI, but have very different body compositions. One person could have high fat mass, whilst the other could have high muscle mass, but BOTH could be in the “healthy” range using BMI.

Using body composition is a far more detailed & accurate means of assessing someone’s overall health status and can provide an ongoing assessment tool as a person makes changes to their diet and lifestyle.

A good example is my client, “Deb”. Quarterly we assess her body composition including fluid status as we are monitoring her primarily for lymphoedema management, but are also monitoring her composition changes as she improves her movement practices.

After her second body composition assessment, Deb injured her ankle. She wasn’t able to do the longer hill walking she had started to help build muscle mass and reduce excess fluid in her body. Her third scan showed little change in her overall weight, just a 200 gram difference. However there were BIG changes in her body composition. Her muscle mass dropped off, her fat mass increased and her total body water increased slightly.
Three months later, when Deb’s ankle injury had improved and she was able to get back to her hill walking, her scan revealed a reversal of her fat & skeletal mass.

What this highlights is that using BMI – height & weight – Deb would have stayed within the “healthy” BMI range. In reality, her increased fat mass was unhealthy and had she held onto that fat mass long term, her risk for a range of health conditions would have increased.

In our clinic we have available two different body composition tools which we use for accurate assessment.

We use the SOZO Body Composition device for clients with fluid related issues, such as lymphoedema, due to its accuracy with fluid measuring, and Tanita Body Composition scales for clients with Lipoedema and other health issues as it provides us with more detailed fat distribution information.

By using these different scanning methods we can get more accurate information about our clients composition and use it to monitor the changes in their body composition as they make changes to their diet & lifestyle practices.

Remember, the “number on the scales” is just a small representation of your overall health and should be considered along with other information in deciding what changes you may – or may not – need to make!

If you’re interested in a SOZO Body Composition Scan, then please feel free to get in touch, or make a Booking – refer Health Assessments option: SOZO.