Body mass index doesn’t work for everyone

Story, photos and videos by: Megan Bauerle, NewsNetNebraska

Body mass index is defined by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute as “a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women.”

The problem with using BMI to determine one’s physical health is that it doesn’t take muscle mass into account.

Peter Hansen is a junior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. As a high school wrestler, weight has always been on Hansen’s mind, but he never had to worry about it. “I never had to work really hard to make my weight class like some wrestlers do,” Hansen said.

Using the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute's body mass index calculator, Hansen is considered to have a "normal weight."

Using the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute's body mass index calculator, Hansen is considered to have a "normal weight."

Andrew Nelson is a sophomore at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. A native of Omaha, Nelson is spending his summer at home, working at Hy-Vee and doing Insanity in his parents’ garage.

“I work out a lot but I eat a lot, too, so it balances out,” Nelson said.

Using the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute's body mass index calculator, Nelson is considered overweight and close to being considered obese, even though he is a former runningback.

Using the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute's body mass index calculator, Nelson is considered overweight and close to being considered obese, even though he is a former running back.

 

Body mass index calculators like used above do not take bone, muscle or water weight into effect. Another test used is a body composition test. A body composition test gives an estimate of your body fat percentage. According to livestrong.com, the average American male has a body fat of 17-19 percent, with anything above 25 percent being considered obese.
Ryan Smith received a body composition test by a certified UNL Rec Center staff member.
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UNL senior Ryan Smith is considered obese by his BMI, but after a body composition test he only has 14 percent body fat.

UNL senior Ryan Smith is considered obese by his BMI, but after a body composition test he only has 14 percent body fat, which is under the national average.

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