Body Mass Index, or BMI, is the method medical professionals use to determine if someone is a healthy weight. Body Mass Index takes into account a person's height and weight to determine levels of body fat. BMI is typically used in individuals over 20, children and adolescents require a different formula to determine if they are a healthy weight.
Body Mass Index is an indicator of some types of disease. High BMI is often associated with cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, some forms of cancer, and sleep apnea. While BMI is an accurate indicator of your risk of obesity-related disease, genetics and lifestyle also have an effect on these conditions. Healthcare professionals use blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels as well as family history when determining if someone is at risk for a particular disease.
Body mass is determined using the mathematical calculation weight in pounds multiplied by 703, divided by height in inches, squared. For people comfortable working with metric measurements, the calculation is more straightforward, weight (Kg), divided by height (M.), squared. There are many online BMI calculators available as well.
Body Mass Index calculations provide an objective assessment of weight. People with a BMI lower than 18.5 are underweight, those whose BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9 are in the healthy range, people with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 are overweight, and those with a BMI of 30 or higher are obese.
While people on either end of the BMI scale, who are either underweight or overweight, have the highest risk of developing health related complications, people who are within the healthy weight guidelines, who do not exercise, eat poorly, or smoke cigarettes are also at an increased risk of developing health related conditions. Similarly, there are things that someone with a high BMI can do to improve their health and reduce their risk of developing disease. Regular checkups to monitor blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels are beneficial. Physical activity, whether through a structured exercise program, or through lifestyle modifications such as walking, also improve health, even if weight remains the same.