Nutrition & Metabolism Disorders: Assessment: Obesity: BMI
Obesity and BMI: Assessing Obesity
Q: What is BMI?
A: Today, obesity is most often measured by using a mathematical formula called a Body Mass Index. BMI can be determined by dividing your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared and then multiplying by 705.
For example, a woman who is 5'6" and weighs 190 would have a BMI of 31.
Height of 5'6" = 66 inches 66 squared = 4,356 190 divided by 4,356 = 0.0436 0.0436 x 705 = 30.75 (which would be rounded up to a BMI of 31)
Q: What does my BMI mean?
A: An individual is considered underweight if their BMI is less than 18.5.
- A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered a "normal" weight.
- A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight.
- A BMI of 30 and higher is considered "Obese."
Individuals who fall into the BMI range of 25 to 34.9 begin having some health risk concerns. Specifically those who have a waist size of more than 40 inches for men, or 35 inches for women, have a higher risk for obesity-related health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. BMI and obesity ranges:
- A BMI of 30 or more qualifies as individual as obese.
- A BMI over 40 indicates that a person is morbidly obese.
Q: Who sets these standards?
A: Medical professionals most often use BMI instead of height/weight charts when studying the effect of body weight on health. In 1995, the World Health Organization recommended a classification for three "grades" of overweight using BMI cutoff points of 25, 30, and 40. The International Obesity Task Force suggested an additional cutoff point of 35 and slightly different terminology.
In 1998, two organizations within National Institutes of Health -- the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases -- put together an expert panel who released report definitions for overweight and obesity in agreement with those used by the World Health Organization. These results, in part, concluded:
- The panel identified overweight as a BMI of 25, but less than 30, and obesity as a BMI of 30 or greater.
- The panel based these definitions on evidence that health risks begin increasing steeply in individuals with a BMI of 25. 5
Q: What are the long-term effects of my BMI being 25 or higher?
A: According to the NIH Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults, adults who have a BMI of 25 or more are considered at risk for premature death and disability as a consequence of overweight and obesity. These health risks increase even more as the severity of an individual's obesity increases.
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