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Why fitness level is more important than BMI

woman and a young man exercising on the treadmill


Being overweight or obese can cause a lot of health problems which we should be aware of.

More than 6 out of 10 Australians are overweight and obese. This number is increasing as more people embrace the modern lifestyle of less movement and unhealthier eating.

Two methods are used to determine your risk factor for various diseases and whether you are of a healthy weight and that is waist circumference and Body Mass index (BMI).

These results were independent of BMI in both men and women, indicating that a higher level of fitness will lead to a reduction in abdominal fat and low-grade inflammation.

Waist circumference can indicate the amount of excess internal fat which is a good indicator of the risk of chronic system inflammation and metabolic diseases as shown by previous studies.

Fitness plays an important role in our health and low fitness levels and fatty deposits in the abdomen has been associated with severe diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, cancer, dementia, depression and an increase in all-cause mortality.

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark investigated the link between fitness and waist circumference as well as fitness and low-grade inflammation within different BMI categories.

The researchers analysed data from 10,976 individuals which was collected for the Danish National Health Examination Survey 2007-2008. Their waist circumference, height, weight were measured and they took a maximal oxygen test (VO2max) to assess their physical fitness.

Their blood samples were also taken to measure their level of C-reactive protein which is a non-specific biomarker for low-grade inflammation.

The researchers found that higher levels of fitness were associated with a smaller waist circumference and low levels of low-grade inflammation in both men and women.

These results were independent of BMI in both men and women, indicating that a higher level of fitness will lead to a reduction in abdominal fat and inflammation.

For a more accurate measurement of our health and risks it is important to consider waist circumference and fitness levels as this will help identify individuals who are at a metabolic risk despite being of normal weight and also those individuals who are metabolically healthy despite being obese (up to 30% of obese individuals fall in this category).

Keeping your fitness levels high is important no matter what your BMI scores say. Exercise ensures that you keep the extra unwanted fat off your body and stay healthy.

Source: PLOS ONE


Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!