Body Mass Index

Posted: August 22, 2011 in Obesity Medicine by

Body mass index, or BMI, is a common topic of discussion among those seeking a higher level of fitness, as well as those undergoing medical weight management. The process of losing weight typically involves burning fat and building muscle or lean body mass. As you lose weight, it is equally important to strive for a healthy BMI range.

Determining your BMI is a general indicator of your overall health and a specific indicator of whether or not you are in a healthy weight range. As an adult, your BMI is calculated based on your height and weight, and is not gender-specific. A healthy BMI range is typically between 18.5 and 26.9, while under 18.5 is considered underweight, and 30.0 and over, obese.

BMI ranges for children are based on age and gender, and compared to other children by percentiles within the same age and gender. Any child at or above the 95th percentile is considered obese.

The BMI calculation involves the following steps: divide your weight in pounds by your height in inches, square that number, and multiply by 703. You can also use a BMI calculator.

Maintaining a healthy BMI range is important, as it reduces your risk for obesity-related diseases and conditions, such as stroke or heart attacks, hypertension, breast and colon cancer, and diabetes, as well as injuries to the back and joints. A related consideration for determining a healthy weight range is waist circumference; over 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men places them within the obese range.

The most commonly misunderstood part of BMI discussions focuses on the difference between body weight in someone who is overweight due to excess fat, and one who appears to be overweight or have a high BMI due to increased musculature and lean body mass. BMI statistics do not take body build into consideration; therefore, highly fit people may appear to be overweight or within high BMI ranges, when in fact, they are healthy.

Consultation with your healthcare professional can provide the necessary advice you need concerning medical weight management, efforts to lose weight, and whether or not you are within healthy BMI ranges based on your individual lifestyle.