This article is reviewed by DR. Deepa Gandhi
Your body weight plays an important role in your health.
An excess amount of body weight can lead to serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Conversely, underweight can indicate malnutrition (1).
Having an appropriate amount of body weight is therefore essential. It not only helps with the absorption of vitamins and minerals but also aids in regulating body temperature and protecting vital organs (1).
One of the best screening tools used to measure a person’s body weight is BMI or body mass index.
Let’s understand more about BMI and how it is calculated in this article.
What is BMI?
The body mass index (BMI) is a measure of a person’s weight status that is calculated by dividing their weight in kilograms by their height in metres squared (2).
It is a cost-effective and simple way to determine if an individual falls into the categories of underweight, healthy weight, overweight, or obese (2). A higher BMI is typically associated with a higher percentage of body fat .
However, it is important to note that BMI is not always an accurate indicator of overall health. Healthcare professionals commonly use a variety of tools and tests, in addition to BMI, to assess an individual’s health status and potential risks (1).
How To Calculate BMI? (2)
To calculate BMI, the same formula is used for both adults and children.
For metric units, the formula is the weight (kg) divided by height (m) squared. If the height is measured in centimetres, it is divided by 100 to get the height in metres.
For imperial units, the formula is the weight (lb) divided by height (in) squared multiplied by 703.
How To Interpret BMI? (2)
For adults, BMI is interpreted using standard weight status categories, regardless of sex or body type.
These categories are underweight (below 18.5), healthy weight (18.5 – 24.9), overweight (25.0 – 29.9), and obese (30.0 and above).
For children and teenagers, BMI is interpreted differently and is age and sex-specific since the amount of body fat changes with age and differs between girls and boys (2).
The Final Takeaway
Maintaining a healthy body weight is crucial for overall health and well-being. Excess body fat can lead to serious health conditions, while insufficient body fat can indicate malnutrition.
The body mass index (BMI) is a useful screening tool that can help individuals determine if they fall into the categories of underweight, healthy weight, overweight, or obese. However, it is important to note that BMI is not always an accurate indicator of overall health, and healthcare professionals use a variety of tools and tests to assess an individual’s health status and potential risks.
Still, understanding how BMI is calculated and interpreted can help individuals make informed decisions about their health and take steps to maintain a healthy weight.
BMI is not an accurate measure when it comes to analysing body fat
- BMI measures overall health status in relation to height and weight. No mention of body fat percentage or muscle mass.
- It does not distinguish water weight, bone mass, etc.
- It is not specific to the sex of a person. For e.g.: the BMI of males and females is the same whereas the male has more muscle mass and the female has more fat mass which is not mentioned in the BMI chart
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