Is BMI different for men and women? Believe it or not, relatively few individuals can accurately answer this question. It is therefore quite ironic that BMI (body mass index) measurements are some of the most important variables to evaluate if you are hoping to lose weight.
In order to fully understand the relationship of this analysis and gender, it is first wise to briefly overview the purpose of a BMI reading, how it is gauged and what it actually signifies. It will then be much easier to discuss whether it equally applies to men and women.
What is Body Mass Index and How is it Measured?
A body mass index reading is used to determine how healthy you are based on two key variables:
However, there is also a bit more than might initially meet the eye. BMI readings will often address other variables such as the shape of your body as well as a metabolism. This helps to provide more accurate results.
It is relatively easy to calculate your own BMI. A body mass index is a ratio of your weight (in kilograms) and your height (in meters squared). For instance, a BMI reading of 35 signifies equates to 35 kilograms/m2. There are also plenty of online resources that will enable you to enter in your height and weight within a matter of seconds before providing an accurate BMI.
Is this BMI Calculator Different for Men and Women?
In the past, many scientific studies reported that women tended to have a higher body mass index due to their natural proclivity to hold slightly more body fat. However, this belief has largely been dispelled in recent times. The majority of researchers now feel that adults over the age of 20 can use the same BMI readings; regardless of gender. Also, the calculations themselves are exactly the same (in terms of the ratio between weight and height).
However, one possible exception should be noted. Certain studies state that males have a noticeably higher BMI when compared to women. At first glance, this seems to go against everything outlined in the previous section. The main difference is that men also tend to hold more lean muscle mass. As muscle is denser than fat, it is not entirely uncommon for males to obtain “false positive” BMIs when, in fact, they are actually quite healthy. For instance, Olympic athletes and strength trainers may be associated with a BMI that is equivalent to an individual who is technically overweight. This is the reason why body mass index should be taken into account with other factors such as body fat percentage and lifestyle.
What is Considered to be a Healthy BMI for Men and Women?
Now that we have address BMI in terms of gender as well as potentially confounding variables, let’s take a quick look at a breakdown of different levels and how these are interpreted:
- A BMI below 18.5: Underweight.
- A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9: An average (healthy) weight.
- A BMI between 25.0 and 29.9: Overweight.
- A BMI over 30: Obese.
Note that BMIs for children and teens will still take gender into account due to hormonal changes that occur during these time periods.
While BMI is a useful method for obtaining the “big picture” in regard to healthy body weight, it is far from perfect. Variables such as age, race, ethnicity, and cultural background are not addressed and yet, these can have a very real impact upon the end results. This is why BMI is less of a clinical diagnostic tool and more of a rough guideline for those who are looking to obtain an overall view of their health.
Still, obtaining a body mass index reading may be able to provide you with a bit more clarity if you are already overweight or attempting to modify your diet. This is why individuals who elect to be fitted with a Spatz3 adjustable gastric balloon could choose to measure their BMI from time to time with the help of an online calculator.
We can now see that answering the question “Is BMI different for men and women” must address more variables than we initially thought!