Body Mass Index (BMI)
BMI is a useful tool in determining a healthy weight
The Body Mass Index
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the Body Mass Index (BMI) is a reliable indicator of total body fat. The BMI is a measurement that takes into account an individual’s weight-to-height ratio in order to gauge total body fat. The NHLBI recommends the use of BMI in order to assess the level of overweight and obesity in adults, and to estimate relative risk of disease compared to normal weight.
“The BMI is a calculation that assesses the relationship between your height and weight, and estimates your degree of obesity and risk for obesity-related diseases,” says Susan L. Burke, director of nutrition services at eDiets. “This results in a range of numbers, and applies to both men and women, adults over age 18 and under 65.”
Calculating Your BMI
To calculate your BMI, you need to first calculate your weight in kilograms and then dive it by your height in meters squared. The NHLBI describes this as the formula:
BMI = Your Weight (in kilos) divided by Your Height (in meters) x Your Height (in meters)
“The BMI does not take into consideration body type or bone structure, so an athlete with increased muscle mass may have a higher BMI and not be overweight,” Burke says. “BMI is not appropriate for pregnant or lactating women.”
Are You at a Healthy Weight?
The NHLBI describes the following as a way of defining the scores attained by calculating your BMI:
- Underweight—Below 18.5
- Normal—18.5 to 24.9
- Overweight—25.0 to 29.9
- Obese—30.0 and above
Obviously, the BMI is only one measurement that can be used to help determine the overall status of your health. The NHLBI recommends a combination of a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity to produce weight loss that also may result in decreases in abdominal fat and increases in cardio respiratory fitness.
Also, determining waist circumference is a good indicator of your abdominal fat content. The level for developing risk factors for heart disease and other serious illnesses increases with a waist measurement of more than 40 inches in men and more than 35 inches in women. To calculate your waist circumference, place a measuring tape snugly around your waist and record the measurement.
Calculating your BMI is a valuable tool to use in order to assess your weight and determine if you are at risk for serious weight-related diseases. An early assessment of a poor body mass index can aid in the prevention of these diseases and give you advanced warning of any potential health risks. Schedule an appointment with your physician if you feel you are in a high-risk category for obesity-related illnesses.
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