HOW DO YOU CALCULATE BMI?
Body mass index (BMI) measures body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women. It's commonly used to determine whether a person
is underweight, average weight, overweight or obese. Calculating BMI is a simple way to determine whether a person is at an appropriate weight for their height
and can be a valuable tool for healthcare professionals to assess the health risks associated with being underweight or overweight.
Click here to try our free online BMI calculator.
BMI is calculated by dividing a person's weight by their height squared. The resulting number is then compared to standardized categories to
determine a person's weight status. For adults, a BMI below 18.5 is considered underweight, a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered healthy, a BMI between
25 and 29.9 is considered overweight and a BMI of 30 or above is considered obese.
How To Calculate BMI
To calculate BMI, you'll need to know your weight and height. Weight can be measured in pounds (lbs) or kilograms (kg), and height can be measured in
inches (in) or meters (m). To calculate BMI, you can use either of the following formulas:
To calculate with pounds and inches:
BMI = weight (lb) / [height (in)]2 x 703
To calculate with kilograms and meters:
BMI = weight (kg) / [height (m)]2
For example, if you weigh 68 kilograms and are 1.7 meters tall, your BMI would be calculated as follows:
BMI = 68 / (1.72) = 23.5
The easiest way to calculate your BMI is to use an online BMI calculator or a smartphone app to calculate your BMI. For example, you can find our free online
BMI Calculator here. These tools will typically ask you to enter your weight and height and then calculate your BMI.
BMI calculators are widely available online and can be found on many websites, including government agencies and health organizations. Some
calculators allow users to enter their height and weight in imperial units (inches and pounds), while others require metric units (centimeters and kilograms).
Our calculator allows you to use either imperial or metric measurements.
To use a BMI calculator, a person simply enters their height and weight and clicks on a button to calculate their BMI. The calculator then displays the
resulting BMI and the corresponding weight category. Some calculators also provide additional information, such as the recommended range of BMI for a person's
age and gender or tips for maintaining a healthy weight.
BMI calculators can be valuable tools for individuals interested in monitoring their weight and ensuring that they are at a healthy level. However,
it's important to note that BMI isn't a perfect measure of body fat and can be misleading in certain situations. For example, BMI doesn't consider
factors such as muscle mass, bone density and distribution of body fat, which can affect a person's weight and health.
Despite these limitations, BMI calculators can still be useful for monitoring weight and promoting healthy habits. It's essential to use BMI
calculators in conjunction with other measures of body fat, such as skinfold thickness or waist circumference, and to consult with a healthcare provider for
a more accurate assessment of weight and health.
Once you've calculated your BMI, you can use it to work out your BMI category and weight status. The World Health Organization (WHO) has established the
following BMI classification categories:
- Underweight: A BMI of less than 18.5 is considered underweight. This may indicate that an individual isn't
getting enough nutrients or may be suffering from an underlying health condition.
- Average weight: A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered average weight. This is generally considered a healthy weight
range associated with a lower risk of developing certain health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.
- Overweight: A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight. This may increase an individual's risk of developing
certain health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Obese: A BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese. This increases an individual's risk of developing serious
health conditions like heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
It's important to note that BMI categories are not the same for everyone and can vary based on age, gender and ethnicity. For example,
older adults may have a higher percentage of body fat but a lower BMI due to age-related muscle loss. Similarly, athletes and bodybuilders may have a high
BMI due to their increased muscle mass but still be considered healthy.
As a result, BMI isn't a perfect measure of body fat as it doesn't consider factors such as muscle mass or bone density. For
example, a heavily muscled person may have a higher BMI due to their muscle mass, even though they may have a low body fat percentage. Similarly, a
person with a low BMI may have a higher body fat percentage due to a lack of muscle mass.
BMI can be useful as a general guide. Still, it's not a substitute for more accurate measures of body fat such as skinfold thickness measurements,
bioelectrical impedance or dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA).
Benefits Of Knowing Your BMI
There are many reasons why it's essential to know your BMI:
- Assess your weight status: BMI can help determine if you're underweight, average weight, overweight or obese.
This information can help you decide about your diet and physical activity habits to maintain a healthy weight.
- Assess your risk for chronic diseases: Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of chronic illneesses such as
type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. Calculating your BMI can help you determine if you're at an increased risk for these conditions and take
steps to prevent them.
- Monitor your weight over time: Regularly calculating your BMI can help you track your weight changes over time. This
can be especially useful if you're trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
- Set weight loss goals: If you're trying to lose weight, calculating your BMI can help you set realistic weight loss
goals. For example, if your BMI is in the obese range, it may be more realistic to aim for a 5-10% weight loss rather than trying to lose a large amount of
- Evaluate the effectiveness of weight loss efforts: Calculating your BMI before and after a weight loss program can
help determine if your efforts are effective. If your BMI has decreased, it may indicate that you've successfully lost body fat.
Why It's Important To Use Waist Measurements With BMI
While BMI can be a valuable tool for identifying general trends in population-level weight and health, it has limitations when assessing an
individual's body composition.
As discussed previously, one major limitation of BMI is that it doesn't consider differences in body shape or distribution of body fat. For example,
two individuals who have the same BMI may have very different amounts of body fat and muscle mass. This is because BMI doesn't distinguish between fat and lean
mass, meaning that an individual with a high amount of muscle mass can have a higher BMI even though they may be healthy.
In contrast, waist measurement provides valuable information about body fat distribution, specifically abdominal fat. Abdominal fat, also known as
visceral fat, is the fat that surrounds the internal organs in the abdominal cavity. Excess abdominal fat increases the risk of obesity-related
health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.
Incorporating waist measurement into the assessment of weight and health can provide a more accurate assessment of an individual's body composition and risk
of obesity-related health problems. Some health organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), recommend using waist circumference as an additional
measure to BMI for assessing the risk of obesity-related health problems.
There are several reasons why waist measurement can be a more reliable indicator of health than BMI alone:
- Waist measurement considers differences in body shape: As mentioned earlier, BMI doesn't differentiate
between fat and lean mass, meaning that two individuals with the same BMI could have very different amounts of body fat. Waist measurement, on the other hand,
provides information about body fat distribution, specifically abdominal fat.
- Waist measurement is more accurate for specific populations: BMI can be less precise for specific populations, such as
older adults, athletes and people with a higher muscle mass. This is because BMI doesn't consider differences in muscle mass, which can lead to an
overestimation of body fat in these populations. Waist measurement can provide a more accurate assessment of body fat in these groups.
- Waist measurement is a strong predictor of health risks: As we've seen, excess abdominal fat is associated
with an increased risk of obesity-related health problems. Measuring waist circumference can provide valuable information about an individual's risk of
developing these health problems.
It's clear that waist measurement in weight and health assessment can provide a more accurate indicator of body composition and risk of
obesity-related health problems, especially for certain high-risk groups.
Waist To Height Ratio
To calculate waist to height ratio (WHtR), divide your waist measurement by height. For example, if your waist measures 35 inches and you're 6 feet
tall (72 inches), your WHtR would be 0.49. This is within the healthy waist-to-height range of 0.4 to 0.49, which indicates no increased health risks. On the
other hand, a ratio of 0.5 to 0.59 would indicate an increased risk of health issues, while 0.6 or more represents the highest risk.
To use the waist measurement to modify the BMI calculation, you can use the following formula, which includes your WHtR:
BMI = Weight (kg) / Height (m)2 + Waist (cm) / Height (cm)
This modified BMI formula considers weight, height and waist circumference, which can provide a more reliable assessment of body fat and the
associated health risks.
It's important to remember that BMI is only one factor to consider when assessing your overall health. Other factors such as diet, physical activity and
genetics can also affect your overall health and well-being. A healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and regular exercise, is critical to maintaining
a healthy weight and reducing the risk of health problems. If you're concerned about your weight or BMI, speaking with a healthcare
professional for guidance and advice is always a good idea. They can help you assess your risk for health problems associated with excess body fat and develop a plan to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
In conclusion, calculating BMI is a simple and convenient way to determine whether you're at a healthy weight for your height. While it's not a perfect
measure of body fat, it can be useful for healthcare professionals to assess the health risks associated with being underweight or overweight. Maintaining a healthy BMI can help reduce your risk of developing a range of health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.