Body Mass Index

Body mass index (BMI) is a way of identifying obesity. This article contains the BMI formula to calculate your own body mass index, there are also BMI calculators available online. Keep reading for a body mass index chart and risk factors that come with being obese.


One of things used to determine whether or not you are at a healthy weight is to consider your body mass index. This calculation helps you determine a measure of body fat with regard to your height and weight. It’s a fairly basic calculation that was formulated by Adolphe Quelet, a Belgian statistician. For the most part, the body mass index (BMI) is used as a general way of identifying obesity. If you want to calculate your BMI, you can do so by taking your weight in pounds and multiplying that number by 703. Then you divide it by your height in inches squared. So, if you are five feet, seven inches tall, and weigh 145 pounds, here is what you would do:

145 x 703 = 101,935. Next, figure your height in inches by taking your height in feet and multiplying by 12: 5 x 12 = 60. Add the seven inches for a total of 67 inches. Square the inches: 67 x 67 = 4,489. Then you do the division: 101,935 / 4,789 = 21.285. If you round to one decimal place, your BMI is 21.3.

If you don’t want to do the math yourself, there are a number of calculators online that can perform the calculation for you. All you have to do is enter “body mass index” or “BMI calculator” into a search engine. The number applies to both men and women. To determine healthy weight, there is a general chart:
 

Body Mass Index

Status of Your Weight

Under 18.5

Underweight

18.5 - 24.9

Healthy/Normal Weight

25 - 29.9

Overweight

More than 30

Obese

As you can see, BMI can be used in a general way to figure out whether you are in need of some changes to your diet or exercise (or both) to bring you in line with what is healthy and normal.

Things to remember about body mass index

While the body mass index is generally considered a fairly reliable indication of total body fat, and can help you figure out your general risk of diseases related to being overweight or obese, as well as indicating if you might be underweight to a degree that is unhealthy, it is not full-proof. It is important to realize that it is not the only you should consider as well. There are two main limits to BMI:

  1. Athletes and others with muscular builds may find that the BMI overestimates the amount of body fat present.
  2. For those who have lost body mass, or who are older, it might underestimate the amount of body fat there.

Remember that BMI is an estimate - a general guide. While it can be helpful, there are things to remember. You can also use BMI in conjunction with your waist circumference to further assess your risk. Waist circumference can help you determine your dangerous abdominal fat. When waist circumference is more than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men, it could indicate an increase of risk for some diseases. Realize that if you have a large waist for your BMI, it could mean that you are storing fat around your organs, which can be dangerous.

Risk factors that come with being obese include the following:

  • High blood pressure.
  • High cholesterol.
  • Heart disease.
  • High triglycerides.
  • High blood sugar.
  • Increase risk of cancer.
  • Lower immunity.

If your BMI shows that you are approaching obesity, it might mean that it is a good idea to see what you can do to get into better health. Making healthier eating choices, and adding exercise to your daily routine can help you improve your health and lower your body mass index. It will also reduce your risk of disease.

In the end, BMI isn’t perfect. However, it can be a helpful indicator of where you are at in terms of total body fat. It can give you a point of reference for making changes to your habits so that you become healthier overall. If you are interested living longer, and living healthier - able to participate in the activities of daily life - it is vital that you use the tools available to assess your health and make the necessary changes. Your body mass index can help you do that, as well as help you track your progress.

Related Article: Obese vs. Overweight >>