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What Is A BMI? And Is It Important?

BMI…? If you have actively tried to lose weight, or remember way back in science class when they briefly brought it up in nutrition, you might know what BMI actually is. For those of you who don’t, BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It is basically a tool we use to calculate, based on your height and weight, a number that determines whether you are in a healthy weight range for your height. Your BMI is a fairly reliable indicator of body fatness for most people. Now this is not a measurement of your body fat percentage, that is a completely separate test, this simply tells you what weight category you are in.


BMI is often used as a screening tool to identify weight problems for adults, however BMI is not a diagnostic tool. For example, a person may have high BMI, but, to determine if excess weight is a health risk, a healthcare provider would need to perform further assessments. These assessments might include skinfold thickness measurements, evaluations of diet, physical activity, family history, and other appropriate health screenings. Calculating BMI is actually one of the best methods for population assessment of overweight and obesity. Because the BMI calculation only requires a patients height and weight, it is an inexpensive and easy tool to tell what weight range they sit at. It is mainly used by private practice doctors to compare a patients weight status to that of the general population.


The actual calculation for determining your BMI is: weight (lb)/ [height (in)]² x 703. An Example: Weight = 150 lbs, Height = 5’5” (65”), Calculation: [150 ÷ (65)²] x 703 = 24.96.


For interpreting your BMI results, this test formulation is for adults 20 years or older, with this model using standard weight status categories that are the same for all ages and for both men and women. Once you have determined your BMI, you will know whether you are within a safe weight range, or, if you should see your doctor about a weight loss plan to help get your BMI in a safe range.


Weight Status

Below 18.5


18.5 – 24.9


25.0 – 29.9


30.0 and Above



For an accurate BMI calculator online, please visit: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/english_bmi_calculator/bmi_calculator.html.



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