Two Best Tools For Home Health Risk Assessment

Short of a full range of tests performed by your medical doctor, there are some tools that you can use for a general home health risk assessment. These tools are free and with a little knowledge, you can determine your general health status. Mind you, this will not tell you if you have any diseases, but you can learn if you are at higher risk for certain diseases.

Health Risk Assessment Tools

Body Mass Index The first tool that you can use for your health assessment is a Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator. This tool lets you determine the state of your health by using your height and weight as a guide and it is popular because of its ease of measurement. The assumption that underlies this measurement is that the larger your BMI, the more at risk you are for future health problems.

There are several categories of classification that range from underweight to what is defined as Class III Obese. The following is list of these categories.

Category   BMI Range 
Severely underweight   less than 16.5 
Underweight    from 16.5 to 18.5 
Normal     from 18.5 to 25 
Overweight    from 25 to 30 
Obese Class I    from 30 to 35 
Obese Class II    from 35 to 40 
Obese Class III   over 40

In terms of what you can take away from these categories, studies show that those who are obese have a greater risk to disease such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer. To a lesser degree, just being overweight can also pose an increase risk in health problems. To assess your BMI, you can use this BMI calculator.

When assessing your health based on your BMI, there is an important consideration to take in to place. Mainly, this measurement does not indicate the percentage of fat on your body. Since a higher percentage of fat has a bigger influence on your health risks, being in a certain category may not be an adequate indication of your overall fitness and health.

Thus, to gain a better assessment of your health risks, you need to estimate your body fat percentage.

Body Fat Percentage Body fat percentage is a measure of your fat divided by your weight. Given that it is the fat on your body and especially around your organs that raise your health risk, it is worth knowing the percentage of fat that you are carrying around.

As for how much essential fat is needed, this varies according to gender. For men it is around 2% – 5%. Due to the demands of childbearing and other hormonal functions, the essential fat for women is higher, around 10% – 13%.

Similar to BMI, the amount of body fat you carry can be broken down into categories. The following category is based on the American Council on Exercise guidelines.

Description Women Men 
Essential fat 10-12% 2-4% 
Athletes 14-20% 6-13% 
Fitness  21-24% 14-17% 
Acceptable 25-31% 18-25% 
Overweight 32-41% 26-37% 
Obese  42%+ 38%+

What makes this a better measurement than BMI is that while you may obtain an “Overweight” assessment in your BMI category, a body fat assessment may show that you are in the “Fitness” category or even the “Athletes” category, which pose little if any health risks. The reason for this is that you have more muscle than fat than the average person your size, and the average person is the standard used to determine BMI categories.

So if you have more muscle on your body than the average person your size, your health risk for certain diseases should not rise since no study has shown that there is an increase in your health risk when you have more muscle than fat. To measure your body fat, you can use this body fat calculator.

In short, these test can give you a general home health risk assessment, with the body fat assessment being a better indicator of the two. Keep in mind that these test give you a general indication of your health and should not be used as an replacement to visiting your doctor.