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I have a friend which I think is a little overweight. When I mentioned this to him and tried to aspire him to loose some weight to get to BMI "Healthy Zone" weight, he said that BMI is a useless tool for calculating a "right" weight for a person and referred me to articles like this.

Are there more reliable calculations than BMI to determine a healthy weight for a person?

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When people say "healthy weight", it is remarkably open for interpretation. My personal opinion, is that one should strive not just to remove as much fat as possible (because a lot of the fat types have purposes), but to remove as much visceral fat as possible.

Visceral fat is the type of fat that wraps around the inner organs, and wreak havoc on your general health. It increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and dementia.

Measuring visceral fat is primarily done by a CT scan, or the more expensive option, a bioelectrical impedance machine. Getting one of these scans done can be beneficial, but it's not needed. Visceral fat can be managed by cardiovascular exercise, resistance training, and dieting. The best thing to do is just say "let's pretend I just had a scan, and it turns out I have a lot of visceral fat", and just get to work.

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  • Why mention bioelectric impedance when that method is very inaccurate? – Alex L Sep 26 '15 at 13:37
  • @AlexL - Because if we exclude everything that is inaccurate, most answers on this site would be very short. I'd rather mention it as an alternative, than have the asker think my answer was just an uneducated stab in the dark. – Alec Sep 26 '15 at 21:52
  • Ah okay, that makes sense. Though I find it hard to believe that getting a ct scan is less expensive than a bio impedance machine. – Alex L Sep 27 '15 at 0:02
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    @AlexL - Yeah, I'll concede that that point is a statistic with a sample size of 1. :) – Alec Sep 28 '15 at 11:59
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BMI is far from ideal for the tall, the short or for athletes. If your friend falls into one of these suggest he checks his: Waist to hip, or Waist to Height ratios, as these have been shown to be better indicator of potential health problems than a BMI figure, as they scale / take account of muscle.

If you're after a weight or weight range, then there are numerous other formula that claim to offer a better / alternative metric, give a couple a go and if they similarly indicate you've eaten too many pies, they're probably correct:

  • NewBMI
  • ABSI
  • BAI
  • BMAI
  • CI
  • PI
  • Ideal Range (Met Life)
  • Ideal Range (Broca)
  • Ideal Weight (Bornhardt)
  • Ideal Weight (Devine)
  • Ideal Weight (Halls)
  • Ideal Weight (Hamwi)
  • Ideal Weight (Lemmens)
  • Ideal Weight (Lorentz)
  • Ideal Weight (Miller)
  • Ideal Weight (Monnerot & Dunaine)
  • Ideal Weight (Peck)
  • Ideal Weight (Pendle)
  • Ideal Weight (Perrault & Creff)
  • Ideal Weight (Robinson)

There are websites and app's that will do the calculations for you.

Similarly an estimate of your body fat may validate the above weights and indices, see: How to calculate Body Fat %.

Personally I use the BioMetrIcs app, to do both.

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