A Foreword to Body Mass Index

BMI values are different for adults & children
A Screening Tool for Body Fat

The term ‘Body Mass Index’ (BMI) has been used frequently by people with or without proper understanding of the same. Before we talk about BMI, we should clearly understand what your BMI does/does not imply about your weight, health and lifestyle choices. BMI, calculated using a person’s height and weight, is a screening tool for body fat for most adults excluding athletes and the elderly. This is an inexpensive tool to measure body fat compared to more costly and direct measurements such as underwater weighing. Remember that BMI cannot be taken as the bible for your health status and it is only one of the many factors that are used to evaluate a person’s health quality.

BMI Ranges

BMI can be calculated using the formula: Weight (kilograms) / Height (centimeters) / Height (centimeters) x 10,000

The four BMI categories include:
BMI below 18.5: Underweight
BMI between 18.5 and 24.9: Normal weight
BMI between 25.0 and 29.9: Overweight
BMI 30.0 and above: Obese

Health and BMI

People having extreme BMI ranges are exposed to maximum health risks. But people having BMI values in normal range are also at a high risk for health problems if they smoke cigarettes, abstain from regular physical activity or consume foods which are high in fat and sugar. Also, people categorized as overweight/obese have a lower health risk if they practice regular physical activity and have their blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels within normal ranges.
This clearly proves that BMI is only one of the many factors for a potential health problem. If you feel that your BMI does not fall within the normal range, you can talk to your health care provider. After assessing you, your doctor might suggest certain lifestyle modifications such as eating proper foods and doing more physical activity to improve your health.

BMI Values are Different for Adults & Young People

Although BMI is calculated in the same way as done for adults, the ranges defining obesity and overweight differ for young people (aged between 2 and 20) because of body fat differences between boys and girls and fat composition variation with age. Know your child’s BMI for his/her height and weight from the website www.firsteatright.com.


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