What’s Your BMI?

BMI is your Body Mass Index which is cal­cu­lat­ed using your height and weight.  Your BMI is one method to deter­mine your body fat lev­el and is an indi­ca­tor of dis­ease risk.

There are lim­i­ta­tions to the BMI. In ath­letes, or those with a mus­cu­lar build, the BMI can over­es­ti­mate body fat lev­els.  For exam­ple foot­ball play­ers may have high BMI’s but their weight is main­ly lean mus­cle mass not body fat.

On the oth­er hand,  it can also under­es­ti­mate body fat, such as in the elder­ly, or those who have lost mus­cle muss.  These indi­vid­u­als may be of nor­mal weight, have a nor­mal BMI but they may actu­al­ly be over-fat.

The Asian Amer­i­can Dia­betes Ini­tia­tive at the Joslin Dia­betes Cen­ter uses low­er cut­off points for BMI and waist cir­cum­fer­ence for Asian Amer­i­cans.  Asian Amer­i­cans may weigh less than Cau­casians, but they are more like­ly to devel­op Type II dia­betes than Cau­casians. BMI 18.5–23.9 is a healthy range, 24–26.9 is over­weight, >27 is obese

Because of its lim­i­ta­tions it’s impor­tant you use the BMI along with oth­er indi­ca­tors, such as waist size, % body fat lev­els, phys­i­cal inac­tiv­i­ty and oth­er risk fac­tors, chron­ic dis­eases, and not as a sole indi­ca­tor of dis­ease risk.

If your BMI is 25 or high­er and you are over­weight or obese, you are at increased risk for the fol­low­ing:

  • high blood pres­sure
  • high LDL cho­les­terol
  • low HDL cho­les­terol
  • high triglyc­erides
  • high blood sug­ar
  • type II dia­betes
  • stroke
  • heart dis­ease
  • gall­stones
  • sleep apnea and oth­er breath­ing prob­lems
  • cer­tain can­cers, such as endome­tri­al, breast, and colon can­cer

You can cal­cu­late your BMI with the BMI wid­get pro­vid­ed by the CDC found on the “tools” page.

BMI Cat­e­gories:

Under­weight 18.5

Nor­mal weight=18.5–24.9


Obesity=30 or greater









U.S. Depart­ment of Health & Human Ser­vices. Nation­al Heart Lung and Blood Insti­tute.  Aim for a Healthy Weight.  http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/lose_wt/risk.htm. Accessed June 18, 2011.

Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion.  Healthy Weight-it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle!  http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/index.html.  Accessed June 29, 2011.



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