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January 28, 2006

Understanding BMI (Body Mass Index)

Before I was operated for my Gastric Bypass, my doctor told me something very important, I should never forget... It is not about just loosing weight, it is about bringing your BMI down...

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a a mathematical calculation used to determine whether a person is overweight. It is reached by dividing a person's body weight in kilograms by the height in metres squared.

If you're left scratching your head every time you encounter the phrase body mass index (BMI) in a nutrition or fitness article, don't worry. BMI is a simple formula that physicians, nurses, dietitians and you can use to evaluate your health.

BMI is an estimate of total body fat based on your height and weight. It's important to know your BMI because excess body fat can put you at risk for health problems such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. To calculate your BMI yourself, use this formula: [ weight in pounds ÷ height in inches ÷ height in inches] x 703.

Once you've determined your BMI, you can determine whether you're in the underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese category. Here are the guidelines:

  • Underweight: BMI of less than 18.5
  • Normal Weight: BMI of 18.5-24.9
  • Overweight: BMI of 25.0 to 29.9
  • Obese: BMI of 30.0 or more

Your doctor or health care provider will take more than BMI into account when evaluating your health - your waist circumference and other lifestyle issues (such as a history of heart disease or your smoking status) may also affect your risk of certain health conditions. For people who are athletes and who have muscular builds, the BMI may overestimate total body fat, since muscle weighs more than fat. And in seniors or those who have lost muscle mass, the BMI may underestimate body fat.

You can calculate your true BMI by clicking here.

If you are unable to use the BMI calculator, or if you are interested in how BMI is calculated, this page has the mathematical formulas. You can calculate BMI using either feet, inches, and pounds, or meters, centimeters, and kilograms.

English Formula

Body Mass Index can be calculated using pounds and inches with this equation

BMI = (             Weight in Pounds            
(Height in inches) x (Height in inches)
) x 703

For example, a person who weighs 220 pounds and is 6 feet 3 inches tall has a BMI of 27.5.

(             220 lbs.            
(75 inches) x (75 inches)
) x 703 = 27.5

Metric Formula

Body Mass Index can also be calculated using kilograms and meters (or centimeters).

BMI =             Weight in Kilograms            
(Height in Meters) x (Height in Meters)
or
BMI = (             Weight in Kilograms            
(Height in centimeters) x (Height in centimeters)
) x 10,000

For example, a person who weighs 99.79 Kilograms and is 1.905 Meters (190.50 centimeters) tall has a BMI of 27.5.

            99.79 Kg            
(1.905 m) x (1.905 m)
= 27.5

You can also download a BMI Table by from here

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