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Body Mass Index - BMI

If you’re like one of the six million Americans who are obese or suffer from morbid obesity, you might want to know how your condition is measured. Generally, your condition is measured by calculating your Body Mass Index, or BMI. Your BMI is the inches of extra fatty tissue seen in the form of excess stored energy BMI is measured in kg/m2.

Generally, your BMI is a scientific measure that uses your height and weight. You can calculate your BMI by dividing your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters. If your BMI is below 20 kg/m2, you have a lean BMI, which means you have a low amount of body fat. If you are an athlete, this can be desirable. If you are not an athlete, a lean BMI can indicate that your weight may be too low which may lower your immunity. If your BMI and body weight are low, you should consider gaining weight through good diet and exercise habits, to increase your muscle mass.

If your BMI is between 20 and 22, you have the ideal, healthy amount of body fat, which is associated with living longest, and the lowest incidence of serious illness. Coincidentally, it seems this ratio is what many individuals perceive to be the most aesthetically attractive. The ideal body mass can also be slightly more than BMI 20-22 if your BMI is between 22 and 25. This is still considered an acceptable range, and is associated with good health.

If your BMI is between 25 and 30, you are considered ”Husky” and should finds ways to lower your weight, through diet and exercise. You are at increased risk for a variety of illnesses at your present weight. You should lose weight by changing your diet and exercising more. If, however, your BMI is over 30, you may have an unhealthy condition. Your excess body mass is putting you at risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, gall bladder disease and some cancers. You should lose weight by changing your diet and exercising more frequently.

Obesity is a problem which can be faced only with the right knowledge and tools. The right indicator of your body mass is vital to maintain the right balance between your weight, height and surface area. This simple BMI tool can show you your body mass indicator which is a single number which expresses the relationship between your body weight, height and surface area. This calculation is based on the Panel on energy, obesity and body weight standards. These standards are reliable as they have been developed by the American Journal on Clinical Nutrition.

Though muscle tissue weighs more than fat tissue, BMI calculation doesn’t recognize the difference between muscle and fat - an aggravating footnote for people who spend a lot of time at the gym. For those who lead more sedentary lives however, BMI can be a useful first indicator of general fitness.

BMI is used differently with children than it is with adults. According various disease control and prevention centers, the same charts are used to establish BMI but what it means is different. As children grow, their body fat changes over the years. The interpretation of BMI depends on the child’s age. Additionally, girls and boys differ in their body fatness as they mature. Therefore, BMI-for-age is plotted on gender-specific growth charts. Healthcare professionals use the following established percentile cutoff points to identify underweight and overweight in children:

  • Underweight BMI-for-age less than 5th percentile
  • At risk of overweight BMI-for-age 85th percentile to less than 95th percentile
  • Overweight BMI-for-age 95th percentile or above

BMI decreases during the preschool years, then increases into adulthood. The percentile curves reflect this pattern of growth.

If you have concerns you should discuss them with your child’s doctor.