Am I overweight? That is a question asked frequently by people of all ages, heights, weights, backgrounds and genders. There are many different ways to answer that question, but is there one easy-to-use method that will give you a good idea, easily and quickly? BMI has been promoted as one such indicator, and it certainly meets the criteria for ease of use.
By The Numbers
BMI stands for Body Mass Index. The concept of BMI was introduced by Adolphe Quetelet, a Belgian statistician who lived during the 1800s. It was initially known as the Quetelet Index, and is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters (BMI = kilograms/meters squared). To calculate your BMI using Imperial measurements, use the following formula: Weight in pounds multiplied by 703, with the result divided by your height in inches. (BMI = pounds * 703/inches squared). There are several BMI calculators available via the internet, so doing the math yourself isn’t necessary unless you’re a statistician or just enjoy solving math problems in your free time.
Your ideal BMI ratio should be between 18.5 to 24.9, as noted by the following chart:
BMI 18.5 or less – underweight
BMI 18.6 – 24.9 – normal
BMI 25 – 29.9 – overweight
BMI 30 – 39.9 obese
BMI 40 + – extremely obese
While BMI is a fairly reliable indicator of body fat for the general population, and a good method to compare your body mass to others of your age and gender, it does have some limitations. Most notable is the fact that there is no way to differentiate between weight from fat and weight from muscle. Therefore, in the extremes of the population – athletes with above-average muscle mass and older people who have lost a substantial amount of muscle – the generalized categories might not appear correct.
In children and adolescents under the age of 20, calculating BMI is a bit more complicated, as the age and gender of the child needs to be taken into consideration. There are charts available for pediatric BMI as well, such as: http://www.bmi.tv/body-mass-index which takes age and gender into account when calculating BMI.
Although BMI is one indicator of the health concerns associated with being under or overweight, it is not the only indicator that should be taken into consideration. Factors such as dietary habits, genetics and exercise regimens are critical to helping your doctor evaluate any health risks to which you could be exposed.
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