Obesity can be debilitating or downright deadly
Hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and sleep apnea are just some of the consequences of long term obesity. It used to be that people relied on a calorie counter to determine weight status, but there are more scientific ways to measure physical health.
A Body Mass Index measurement from a BMI calculator can determine whether you are overweight and whether you need to start implementing healthier lifestyle habits.
What is BMI?
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a calculation based on someone’s weight divided by height squared. Keep in mind that an individual’s weight which includes muscle as well as fat. Because of this, some people may have a higher BMI result and a lower percentage of body fat.
BMI is used by health and medical professionals as a reliable indicator of body fat categories. While it is easy to use, it does not diagnose health issues like a physician. BMI merely sheds light on possible weight issues that could lead to health conditions or concerns. A thorough exam including nutritional information, physical activity on a daily basis, and family history will further assess a person’s health.
Inches and pounds or centimeters and kilograms may be used to give a numerical measurement. Here’s how it works:
BMI Calculator #1 Using Inches and Pounds
- A 5.5’ (65”) woman weighs 150 pounds.
- Weight (lb) / [height (in)]2 x 703
[150 ÷ (65)2] x 703 = 24.96
BMI Calculator #2 Using Centimeters and Kilograms
- A 165 cm (1.65 m) man weighs 68 kg.
- Weight (kg) / [height (m)]2
68 ÷ [1.65]2 = 24.98
To calculate BMI for children and teens, the same formula is used. The only thing that differs is the criteria (gender and age) used to interpret the findings. Why? Body fat changes as a child matures and differs between the sexes.
What does this Measurement Mean?
BMI allows each person to compare their result to a general guide:
- 18.5-24.9 is Normal
- 25-29.9 is Overweight (About two-thirds of Americans fall into this category.)
- 30 + is Severe Obesity
- 40 + is Morbid Obesity
At an initial glance, one might think an underweight calculation is ideal. However, it could be an indicator of the disease, poor nutrition, or serious health risks such as anemia, inadequate caloric intake, vitamin deficiencies, reduced immunity to infection, bone thinning, infertility, or heart rhythm irregularities. A physician should be consulted if a BMI calculation is under 18.5.
Keep in mind that the relationship between the BMI result and body fat is substantial. It does vary according to age, race, and gender. For example, a man and woman can share the same BMI number, but women tend to have increased body fat than men. Also, a young adult may have an identical BMI number than his grandparent, but older people tend to have more body fat. Finally, athletes have been known to have a high BMI result because of their above muscularity.
Also, the BMI chart is not appropriate for pregnant or breastfeeding women. It is not recommended for people who are considered extremely frail.
Are there Other Ways to Calculate Body Fat?
Doctors use other tests to measure body fat. They include dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, skinfold thickness measurements, weighing a patient underwater, bioelectrical impedance, and isotope dilution. However, these tools are not as handy or easy to standardize over time and with research studies. The BMI method is much more popular in the medical community, a healthy alternative to calorie counter options.
Consult your physician if you have questions or concerns about your BMI. They will help you interpret the calculation and determine the right course of action for improved health.