Body Mass Index - All you need to know
Did you ever wonder if your weight is healthy? Then you have possibly heard of the expression BMI or Body Mass Index. Maybe your doctor or a friend told you about it that it can be an indication that you need to drop or increase weight.
I was amazed when I discovered that BMI already exists for around 200 years. I only heard of it in the last few years. Suddenly anybody appears to be depending on the Body Mass Index to figure out whether they are overweight or not.
Adolphe Quetelet developed this tool in the early 1800s while he was working on human physics. Therefore it is sometimes also called the Quetelet Index. Now, 200 years later, it is still used with a tiny difference to the original form. In all these years it remained one of the most frequent weight measurements.
What is the Body Mass Index?
The Body Mass Index is a number that you calculate from your size and your body weight. It compares height and weight to figure out if your weight is in a healthy range. The BMI also correlates height and weight to know the percent of body fat a person approximately got. A high BMI indicates that you carry around a more significant amount of fat in your body. Usually, doctors, fitness trainer and even insurance providers use the Body Mass Index to discover if somebody is overweight or even obese. The BMI is not always 100% correct though, but it's still the favorite tool used in the health care community.
The Body Mass Index gives them information about the relationship between body weight and height. With this, a direct comparison between people is possible. They also use this information to make a rough evaluation of their nutritional status.
Males and females usually have different degrees of body fat. Women are inclined to have more subcutaneous fat than men. Because of that, they got a higher Body Mass Index when compared to men.
Calculating the Body Mass Index
Figuring out your Body Mass Index on your own is very easy. To calculate it you need to know your exact height and weight in inches and pounds. First, you multiply your height with itself. Then you divide your weight by this number and multiply it with 703. The result is your BMI.
If you want to use meters and kilograms, the method is the same. But you don't need to multiply with 703 at the end.
Another way to calculate your Body Mass Index is to use the following chart. You need to combine your weight and height, and it shows you your BMI. Or you might use our calculator. It is a link to it at the bottom of the page
Standard weight considers values between 18.5 and 24.9.
Your BMI is in the healthy range, that is, that you have reached your ideal weight or to approach this. Be sure to keep your weight in this area, because overweight or underweight can lead to health problems.
If your value is above 25, you should lose weight because being overweight can contribute to the development of many diseases. These include type 2 diabetes, hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases (e.g., heart attack, coronary heart disease, stroke, atherosclerosis).
Not even to talk about the emotional effects on your life and relationships.
If your BMI is over 30, a weight reduction you need to lose weight urgently for health reasons. The health problems associated with obesity can affect life expectancy significantly.
If your value is under 18.5, you are considered underweight.
Being underweight in adulthood can have many causes. On the one hand, serious illnesses such as cancer and AIDS can cause that the diet can't keep up with the need for energy and nutrients step. But even psychological reasons may be suitable if they lead, for example, to diseases such as anorexia.
When is the BMI not meaningful?
I pointed out earlier that the BMI is not always 100% correct. The BMI does not include individual factors as body fat, bone and frame size, muscle and body type. Therefore it is increasingly for several years in the criticism.
BMI is only meaningful in adults in the age from 18 to 65.
The BMI of children expresses in so-called percentages.
In adults aged over 65 years, the BMI is different classified. The body composition changes with increasing age (increase in body fat content and declining percentage of body water).
For some groups, this simple calculation has limited significance. The Body Mass Index applies, for example, not for athletes or people who undergo intensive weight training. It doesn't differentiate between muscles and fat. Trained muscles are more substantial than fat. A Bodybuilder, for example, got a massive amount of muscle mass. Compared to his height his weight is quite high. Therefore he got an increased Body Mass Index though he might not have an ounce fat in his body.
Also, BMI does not distinguish between fat mass and water. Fluid retention in the tissue (e.g., edema) causes such a falsely high BMI. Likewise, people can have a full body shape without any visible obesity have an increased BMI.
Even with very small or tall persons, the BMI has limited explanatory power.
You can check your BMI with our calculator.