Beyond body weight: 5 health numbers everyone should know

  • Article by: Allie Shah , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 3, 2013 - 2:49 PM

We hear them referenced all the time on TV and at the doctor. So why haven’t some of us memorized the five essential numbers that can reveal our true health?

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jbpaperSep. 2, 13 6:45 PM

I agree with everything except the BMI and I'm not alone on that one. I recently went to the doctor for a physical, towards the end he was going over everything and determined my BMI (the nurse had taken my height and weight earlier). After he determined it, he just looked at me and said hmmm. I looked at him in way that he realized I was wondering what he was thinking. He then replied that I apparently am obese. I told him that I had heard that before. He just shook his head and said how it is not a very accurate measurement of someones health.

I'm in the acceptable range on the others, I just happen to be stocky.

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ndheussSep. 3, 13 8:25 AM

According to Wikipedia, Adrian Peterson is 6' 1" tall and weighs 217 pounds. This means his BMI is 28.6, well into the overweight category, and nearly obese (BMI of 30 or greater). That's insane, and clearly wrong. There needs to be a BMI for men and one for women, or we need to stop talking about this stupid number.

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roberth999Sep. 3, 13 9:04 AM

I agree with the BMI comments. Muscle mass doesn't show up in the formula. My BMI has decreased from 33 to 29 over the last few months because I was overweight and I only needed a mirror to figure that out.

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pjscottSep. 3, 13 9:58 AM

BMI is descriptive not predictive -- it is a average figure derived from the life insurance industry. Hence the truth of the comments above about muscle mass, etc. The waistline and and blood pressure are important, probably blood sugar too, but total cholesterol is outdated. HDL to LDL ratio perhaps is better.

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vegasgalSep. 3, 1310:41 AM

I often wonder how the 35 inch waist standard handles the difference between a woman who is 5'1 and one who is 5'11 with a muscular build. Guidelines based on averages should not be used alone to measure someones health. Human beings "normal" varies too much.

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stuntmonkeysSep. 3, 1310:53 AM

I second the comments above about BMI (my doctor said it does not apply to me based on my weight lifting and body type). I also agree that LDL should be considered differently than HDL. Finally, I defy anyone to fail the waistline test and meet any sort of BMI or body fat percentage test. Since it is redundant, it should be eliminated. I'd propose: blood pressure, blood sugar, body fat percentage and HDL/LDL ratio. The reason these don't get cited as much is because they are nuanced (HDL/LDL) or hard to measure (body fat).

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alext717Sep. 3, 1312:13 PM

Let's get real. A 35-inch waist on a woman isn't small, even at 5'11". That a women's size 18. I'm pretty sure no woman, even a 6-foot tall woman, could body build her way up to a 35-inch waist/ size 18. If you're wearing an 18, you're in Lane Bryant territory, period.

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mspshadowSep. 3, 13 1:09 PM

My employer now offers discounts in monthly premiums if we have a normal BMI, blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol when tested at the doctor. My doctor laughed when he saw BMI on the form and said that BMI indicates absdolutely nothing.

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natro220Sep. 3, 13 2:13 PM

My waist is 54 inches. Yikes

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scumbummerSep. 3, 13 2:27 PM

Apparently the guy in the photo should also get to know his bra size.

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