Most of us judge whether we are at a healthy weight by stepping on a bathroom scale. Body-mass index (BMI) is another way to find out whether you are at a healthy weight. BMI provides a reliable indicator of “body fatness” for most people, and is used to screen for weight categories that may lead to long-term health problems.
Body Mass Index (BMI), is a number calculated from a person’s weight (in pounds) and height (in inches).
A calculated BMI will help you determine your true weight status as either underweight, normal, overweight, or obese. These BMI ranges are based on the effect of weight status on disease and death. Generally, as a person’s BMI increases, so does their risk for a number of health conditions and diseases.
BMI Weight Status
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5 – 24.9 Normal
25.0 – 29.9 Overweight
30.0 and above Obese
Having a BMI of 25 or higher may be an indicator of having too much body fat. But there are other health risk factors that should be considered along with your BMI. These risk factors include a high cholesterol level, high blood pressure, diabetes and mildly elevated blood sugars, or “borderline diabetes”. Another risk factor is a waist circumference of 40 inches or more in men or 35 inches or more in women.
BMI measures are not always accurate for everyone and in certain circumstances BMI should be interpreted with caution.
BMI is only applicable to adults 20 years old and older, and is interpreted using standard weight status categories that are the same for all ages and for both men and women. For children and teens, the BMI is both age and sex-specific.
Women who are temporarily carrying extra weight due to pregnancy should not use BMI to determine health risk.
Athletes and body builders may also have a falsely elevated BMI as they typically have a large proportion of their body weight contributed by lean body mass (muscle tissue).