Body Mass Index


BMI is a person’s body weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters. Since the calculation of BMI requires only height and weight, it is considered to be an inexpensive and easy –to-perform method of screening for weight category.

Your BMI values are a mere indicator of how much fat is present in your body. BMI is not diagnostic of the body fat or health of an individual. For example, a high BMI may not necessarily indicate a health risk. Your healthcare provider would require performing further assessments to ascertain whether you are suffering from any medical condition. A lot may come into picture when these assessments are done--- skin fold thickness measurements, diet pattern, physical activity, family history and other health screenings.

It is calculated in the same way for both adults and children. However, the interpretation of BMI depends upon age and sex when children and teens are considered. This is because the amount of body fat is age and gender specific i.e. different between boys and girls.

The standard weight categories associated with the BMI ranges for adults 20 years old and older are mentioned below in the following table.

< 18.5 Underweight
18.5 - 22.9 Normal
23 - 24.9 Borderline Overweight
25 - 29.9 Overweight
> 30 Obese

Interesting Facts Revolving Around BMI

  • A person’s BMI and body fat are moderately correlated. Even then it is observed that two people having the same BMI can differ in their levels of body fat. For example, Women tend to have more body fat than men. Athletes have less body fat than non athletes with the same BMI values.
  • BMI does not take into account muscle mass while still indicating body fat. Hence, you may notice athletes or body builders with high muscle mass have a high BMI but are not overweight. Similarly, elderly people with less muscle mass may have slightly lower BMI. However, this does not mean they are underweight./li>

Health Consequences of Obesity
You are at an increased risk for a wide number of health problems if you are obese. These include the following:

  •  Hyperlipidemia.
  •  Hypertension
  •  Diabetes
  •  Pulmonary and renal problems
  •  Pregnancy complications
  •  Coronary heart disease
  •  Stroke
  •  Osteoarthritis (breakdown of cartilage and bone in a joint).
  •  Certain types of cancer (gallbladder, kidney, colon, breast and liver).