December 20, 2010

Body Mass Index (BMI) and Waist Circumference

The Body Mass Index (BMI) provides a good estimate of body fat percentage in most adults. It determines your BMI category as one of the following: underweight, normal weight, or obese (moderate, severe, extreme).

The BMI chart below uses your height and weight to calculate your body fat levels. Higher BMI values are associated with increased health risks. The lower your BMI, the lower your health risks. Waist circumference can also predict health risks.

To determine your BMI, find the BMI value that intersects with your weight and height. Example: If you are 5'6" and weigh 230 pounds, your BMI is 37.

Disease Risk According to BMI and Waist Size
BMIWeight ClassificationWaist less than
or equal to

40 in. (men) or
35 in. (women)
Waist greater than
40 in. (men) or
35 in. (women)
18.5 or lessUnderweightN/AN/A
18.5 - 24.9NormalN/AN/A
25.0 - 29.9OverweightIncreasedHigh
30.0 - 34.9ObeseHighVery High
35.0 - 39.9ObeseVery HighVery High
40 or greaterExtremely Obese (50%)Extremely HighExtremely High

BMI is not considered reliable for children, adolescents, the elderly or very muscular individuals.
  • BMI values > 30 will have the greatest accuracy. Skin fold calipers can also be used to measure body fat %. Using a bio-impedance devise is even a more precise method.
  • BMI values > 40 has an extremely high healthy risk. More intensive medical treatment is advised.

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