BMI: What Does It Mean and is it Useful?

If you have had a conversation about your weight, the Body Mass Index (BMI) has probably been discussed. As you may know, your BMI comes from a formula that compares your weight to your body’s surface area. The product of this formula is a number that can be used to classify your body type into four categories: underweight; normal weight; overweight; and obese. According to recent statistics, the United States ranks #1 in the world for obesity among larger countries with an average BMI of 28.8 and a 36 percent obesity rate.

Doctor at Surgical Association of Mobile explains the meaning of BMI and how it can be a useful tool for bariatric medicine.

BMI and Bariatric Surgery

Appropriate candidates for bariatric surgery will have a BMI of at least 40 – or 35 if they have other underlying health conditions. This is the number insurance companies and bariatric practices alike will use to preliminarily determine candidacy for surgery. Insurance companies will also take into consideration your past weight loss efforts through other means before covering bariatric surgery.

The BMI calculation was created by a Belgian mathematician, Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet, in the 19th century. Initially, BMI statistics were used by the government to calculate obesity rates and determine resource allocation.

However, BMI is a calculation based solely on your weight and height, so it has inherent limitations.  It does not consider other factors such as bone and muscle density. It is possible for a perfectly fit person to classify with a high BMI due to exceptional muscle weight. Some may also have a relatively lower BMI but suffer from excess weight related conditions because of low muscle mass.

The Bottom Line

While BMI can be a guide, you should always seek the opinion of a qualified bariatric professional to determine if you are fit for surgery. There are several factors that contribute to your candidacy, and having an experienced professional by your side can make the journey safer, less frustrating, and more effective.

If you are interested in talking to a doctor about whether your BMI makes you an ideal candidate for bariatric surgery, give us a call today. SAMPA has nearly 50 years of experience when it comes to bariatrics and promises to provide each patient with compassionate and state of the art care.

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3 Mobile Infirmary Cir, Suite #212,
Mobile, AL 36607

Springhill Medical Center

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Mobile, AL 36608