BMI is a screening tool that can indicate whether a person is underweight or if they have a healthy weight, excess weight, or obesity. If a person’s BMI is outside of the healthy range, their health risks may increase significantly.
Carrying too much weight can lead to a variety of health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular problems.
A weigh that is too low can increase the risk of malnutrition, osteoporosis, and anemia. The doctor will make suitable recommendations.
BMI does not measure body fat directly, and it does not account for age, sex, ethnicity, or muscle mass in adults.
However, it uses standard weight status categories that can help doctors to track weight status across populations and identify potential issues in individuals.
BMI in adults
Calculating BMI involves measuring a person’s height and body weight.
- To calculate BMI in metric units, use the following method: BMI = kg/m2
- So, to calculate an adult’s BMI: Divide their weight in kilograms (kg) by the square of their height in meters (m2)
Since most people measure height in centimeters (cm), divide height in cm by 100 to get height in meters.
- When using imperial units, the formula is: BMI = lbs x 703/in2
- In other words: Multiply a person’s weight in pounds (lbs) by 703. Then divide by their height in inches, squared (in2)
To avoid using the math, a person can use a calculator or a chart to find their BMI.
Enter height or weight in either imperial or metric measurements to find your BMI.
1) Metric BMI Calculator
2) Imperial BMI Calculator
Apart from reducing the risk of the health conditions, maintaining a healthy weight offers additional benefits:
- 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
Other measures of a healthy body
BMI is a useful tool, but it cannot identify whether a person’s weight is made up of muscle or fat.
For example, an athlete with a lot of muscle tissue may have a higher BMI than a person who is not very active. But, this does not mean that the athlete is overweight or unhealthy.
In addition, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure are more likely to occur in people who have additional fat — known as visceral fat — around their middle rather than their hips.
Other measures of body size include waist-hip ratio, waist-to-height ratio, and body composition, which measures body fat and lean body mass. These measurement systems focus more on the amount of fat a person has and its distribution around the body.
Together with BMI, these additional measures can help to assess more accurately the health risks associated with an individual’s weight.
BMI can be a useful screening tool for predicting certain health risks. However, people should use it with caution, as it does not take other factors — such as activity levels and body composition — into account.
For children and teens, it is important to include their age and sex when taking a BMI measurement, because their bodies continuously change as they develop.
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