BMI: Calculating Body Mass Index

Body Mass Index or BMI is a commonly used method of checking for obesity. Find out what the formula is and what your ideal BMI should be.

Body Mass IndexBody Mass Index

What is BMI?

Excessive body fat is a major health concern as it paves the way for various serious ailments and health issues. BMI or Body Mass Index is an important tool that enables you to calculate the amount of fat you have depending on your height and weight. It is applicable to both men and women. BMI is the most widely accepted measurement of obesity internationally.

Although BMI is not a sure shot method of determining obesity, it is still the most accepted method of checking for excessive weight.

Calculation of BMI

The calculation of BMI is widely done by the BMI formula or the Quetelet Formula, given by Belgium statistician Adolphe Quetelet.

The formula requires two values – the height and weight of the individual. The weight is measured in kilograms and height in either centimetres or metres.

BMI = Weight in kilograms/ Height in metres squared     

BMI = Kg/ m²

Ranges of BMI

There are four ranges of BMI. Once you have calculated the BMI depending upon the value obtained, you will fall in one of the following categories:

Underweight – BMI less than 18.5

Healthy Weight – BMI between 18.5 – 24.9

Overweight– BMI between 25 – 29.9

Obese  - BMI over 30

Importance of BMI

The significance of BMI can be listed as under:

 1.   Inexpensive:

It saves a lot of money. The other tests for obesity estimation or fat assessment like bioelectrical impedance, isotope dilution etc., are expensive and require highly trained professionals; BMI stands out to be easily affordable by everyone.

2.    Risk Assessment:

The accuracy of BMI in assessment of fatal diseases like hypertension, diabetes type 2, renders it all the more important.

 3.    Forecasts other Diseases:

BMI is also a good predictor of serious ailments like cardiovascular diseases.

High BMI indicates high levels of cholesterols and triglycerides. High BMI also poses a potential risks of breast cancer, colon cancer, endometrial cancer and respiratory problems.

 4.    Helps Young People:

BMI helps us in estimating the body fat of children and younger people and reveals alarming signals at initial stages.

Limitations of BMI 

Though BMI is a reliable method of body fat calculation, it does not differentiate between fat mass and muscle mass. An athlete with good muscle mass might have a high BMI, indicating obesity. However, in this case the high BMI is due to the athlete’s high muscle mass and not body adipose tissues. So it is imperative to consider blood pressure, physical inactivity and girth of the abdomen while assessing an individual’s health status.

Photograph by Stephanie Berghaeuser, via

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BMI: Calculating Body Mass Index is a post from: mDhil

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