Body mass index, also known as BMI, is the measurement of the amount of body fat in relation to a person’s weight and height. This method provides a better understanding of how much body fat a person has specifically, rather than focusing solely on a target weight. The use of a BMI calculator can provide important information to the user. It is one of the best ways to understand your true level of health.
Why Does BMI Matter?
BMI is one of the tools doctors use to better understand how healthy a person is based on how much body fat is present. A higher body fat level presents a higher level of risk as it relates to a person’s overall health. Maintaining a healthy body weight and body fat level contributes to improved quality of life and life span in many people.
Maintaining a healthy weight is important for reducing health risks. People who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk of developing health-related complications including:
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Breathing problems
- Certain types of cancer
Many men and women will find that maintaining a healthy BMI level can also help you to feel more confident about yourself and it may give you a better quality of life. BMI calculators can help you to understand where your health stands in these areas.
Understanding BMI Calculations
To understand how BMI calculators work, it’s important to understand that this is a method of calculating body fat. The higher percentage of body fat you have, the more at risk you are for developing health related complications. Those who have a very low BMI are also negatively impacted. Too low can lead to malnutrition, loss of energy, loss of function of body organs, and even death.
The following are the categories associated with BMI according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
- BMI under 18.5: Underweight
- BMI between 18.5 and 24.9: Normal weight
- BMI between 25 and 29.9: Overweight
- BMI over 30: Obese
It is important to understand that BMI also has some limitations. For those who are athletes or who have a very muscular build, BMI can often overestimate a person’s body fat because it doesn’t take into consideration the amount of additional muscle mass on the body. Additionally, it can underestimate the amount of body fat that an older person has. This occurs because, as a person ages, the amount of muscle and bone mass decreases, while fat percentage may not.
While BMI calculators are an excellent tool for understanding overall health, it is important to follow your doctor’s specific goals and direction in terms of losing or building body weight.
Keep In Mind
BMI calculators are a very valuable tool for individuals to learn and use as a way of gauging overall risk. However, they are not the only thing to keep in mind. For example, those who are overweight or carry most of their weight around their midsection are more at risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Those who have a waist circumference that is above 35 inches are more at risk in this area.
Wondering Where You Stand?
To use a BMI calculator, you’ll need to enter your height (in centimeters) into the tool. Then, enter your weight (in kilograms). Within a few seconds, you’ll see the results. Use the chart above to determine where your weight fits into this body mass index. Then, use this to help gauge if you should work towards reducing or even gaining weight.
What Should You Do Now?
Once you learn what your BMI number is, the next step is to talk to your doctor about making changes to improve your health. Those who are at a BMI level of obese are in the most dire need of making changes to improve health. Work with your doctor to create a plan for losing weight.