Wed | Oct 4, 2023

Boost self-care by knowing your numbers

Published:Wednesday | August 31, 2022 | 12:08 AM

IN OUR first article on the subject, we made reference to the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ ‘Know Your Numbers’ campaign. The ministry’s campaign has been driving home the importance for Jamaicans to know their health-related numbers, i.e. cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, weight and body mass index (BMI). We broke down what the numbers mean specifically for high blood pressure and cholesterol and what the implications are when the numbers are off. This week, we continue our discussion on the numbers for your blood sugar level and BMI.

You ought to know what your health numbers are and be able to act on what signals they are sending you.

The measurements for blood pressure, blood sugar, weight and BMI are crucial indicators of your overall health, especially since they relate to your risk for heart attack and stroke. Unlike your family history, ethnicity and gender, which cannot be changed, these numbers/factors can be altered by the choices you make every day.


Let’s understand BMI. Body mass index, or BMI, is a medical screening tool that measures the ratio of your height in relation to your weight to calculate the amount of body fat. BMI takes into account our varied body shapes and gives a healthy weight range for a particular height. Healthcare professionals take other factors into consideration as well in assessing whether you are at a healthy weight.

A muscular person, like weight trainers, has denser muscles and their weight may indicate overweight, but that may not be so. Your ethnicity also plays a role in how at-risk you may be for some health conditions. You should not use BMI screening if you are pregnant. Your doctor will let you know, should you have concerns about your weight when you are pregnant.

Here is a breakdown:

Body Mass Index (BMI):

• 18.5 – 24.9: Normal

• 25.0-29.9: Overweight

• 30.0 and Higher: Obese


• Ideal weight depends on your age, height and gender. Discuss with your doctor to see if you are in a healthy weight range.


Checking your blood sugar, also called blood glucose, is an important part of diabetes control. Your blood sugar numbers show how well your diabetes is controlled. Managing your diabetes well means that you have a lower chance of developing serious health problems.

You will be able to see what makes your numbers go up or down, such as eating different foods, taking your medicine, or being physically active. With this information, you can work with your doctor or the clinic you visit to make decisions about your best diabetes care plan. These decisions can help delay or prevent complications from diabetes such as heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and amputation. Your doctor will tell you when and how often to check your blood sugar levels.

• Fasting Glucose:

• 3.9-6.1 mmol/l (70 mg/dL – 110 mg/dL)

Here are some questions that may be useful for your appointment.

• What is my target blood sugar range?• How often should I check my blood sugar?

• What do these numbers mean?

• Are there patterns that show that I need to change my diabetes treatment?

• What changes need to be made to my diabetes care plan?

Stay in the know!