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What is BMI?

What is BMI?

23 April ,2018

Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on your weight in relation to your height, and applies to most adult men and women aged 20 and over. For children aged 2 and over, BMI percentile is the best assessment of body fat.

BMI is used as a screening tool to indicate whether a person is underweight, overweight, obese or a healthy weight for their height.

If a person's BMI is out of the healthy BMI range, their health risks may increase significantly.

BMI values are age-independent and the same for both sexes. However, BMI may not correspond to the same degree of fatness in different populations due to different body proportions.

BMI is interpreted by using standard weight status categories.

The health risks associated with an increasing BMI are continuous, and the interpretation of BMI grading in relation to risk may differ for different populations.

There are two ways to check your BMI:

  • Use BMI calculators.
  • Use the BMI chat. First, find your height in the left-hand column. Then, follow it over until you find your weight along the top bar. The number in the center box between the two is your BMI.

Benefits of maintaining a healthy weight

The benefits of maintaining a healthy weight include:

An exercise plan can help you maintain a healthy BMI.

  • Fewer joint and muscle pains
  • Increased energy and ability to join in more activities
  • Improved regulation of bodily fluids and blood pressure
  • Reduced burden on the heart and circulatory system
  • Improved sleep patterns
  • Reductions in blood triglycerides, blood glucose, and risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Reduced risk for heart disease and certain cancers.

Excess weight increases how hard the heart has to work, it also raises blood pressure, blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and lowers HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Excess weight can make a person more likely to develop diabetes.

Lifestyle changes that help you maintain a 3-5% weight loss are likely to result in clinically meaningful improvements in blood glucose, triglycerides and risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Greater weight loss can also help reduce blood pressure and improve blood cholesterol.4

How is BMI used?

BMI is not accurate enough to be used as a diagnostic tool. However, it is used as a screening tool to identify potential weight problems in adults.A person may have a high BMI, yet to determine if this excess weight is a health risk, a health care provider would need to complete further assessments such as:

  • Skinfold thickness measurements
  • Evaluations of diet
  • Physical activity
  • Family history
  • Other appropriate health screenings.

How to calculate BMI for adults

Belgium Statistician Adolphe Quetelet developed the BMI formula approximately 150 years ago.

The calculation of BMI is based on the following formulas:

Metric BMI Formula

Weight (kg) / Height (m)

With the metric system, the formula for BMI is weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared (kg/m2). Since height is commonly measured in centimeters, divide height in centimeters by 100 to obtain height in meters.

Imperial BMI Formula

(Weight (lbs.) * 703) / Height (inches)

When using pounds and inches, the formula needs to be altered slightly. Multiply your weight in pounds by 703. Divide that by your height in inches, squared.


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