One common thing a dietician does to patients referred to them for care in the hospital is that they take their weight and height.

They are also able to do a body composition analysis on patients to reveal how much fat they have in their body in relation to their total body weight. 

Another component of the body composition analysis is the measurement of fat around visceral organs, termed visceral fat. This gives us an idea as to how much fat is stored around internal organs like the heart. The higher this measure, the more likely the victim is to develop heart disease.

Some of the time, patients ask only about their weight. The value on the scale can be compared to previous reading, thus making it possible for one to determine whether they have gained weight or not.

Weight alone is not a very sensitive tool in determining someone’s nutritional status. 

Nutritional status is the state of a person’s health as influenced by the nutrients in his diet. It is a reflection of the levels of nutrients in the body and the ability of those levels to maintain normal metabolic integrity. 

Nutritional status is a global term that encompasses a number of specific components from nutritional assessments for example, the body mass index, body fat measurements, clinical and biochemical examination of the body.  

Thus the earlier measurements I talked about as often performed by dieticians on their patients constitute the assessment of their nutritional status. 

We would take a look at the body mass index (BMI) and its applications to the health status of an individual.

Measuring the body mass index (BMI)

First measure your weight in kilograms (kg) and then measure your height in meters (m). You can then calculate the BMI by using the formula below;

There are smart phone applications that would only require that you enter your weight, then your BMI gets calculated.

Interpreting the BMI values

Description Lower BMI      Upper BMI

Underweight 17.5             18.5

Optimal          18.5             24.9

Overweight  25              29.9

Obese          30              40

Morbid Obesity Over 40

For adults, the BMI gives an indication as to whether you are underweight, of optimal weight, overweight or obese. For children, the figure is often compared to a growth chart.

The table above classifies the BMI for adults. 

If you are underweight

• Your body may not get enough nutrients and energy for metabolism.

• You are prone to sickness more frequently.

• You may suffer infertility.

• You may not be able to sustain a full term pregnancy.

If you are overweight/obese

• Your body might be getting too much energy and nutrients.

• You are at an increased risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, high blood cholesterol, liver diseases, heart diseases, gout, arthritis, infertility, or even die.

To be at reduced health risk, maintain a normal BMI. Even within the normal range, it is better to fall somewhere below the median. Thus the closer it is to 18kg/m2, the better. 

Eat well and get enough exercise to maintain a good weight for your height; a guarantee for total health and wellness. 

If you are overweight or obese, take practical steps to bring your weight down. A dietician will be of immense help to you.