What is a BMI?

A Body Mass Index is a number calculated from a person’s weight and height. BMI provides a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people. It is also an inexpensive and easy-to-perform method of screening for weight categories that may lead to health problems.

Overweight and obese individuals are at increased risk for many diseases and health conditions, including, hypertension, dyslipidemia (for example, high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides), Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and respiratory problems, and some cancers.

BMI is used as a screening tool to identify possible weight problems for adults. However, BMI is not a diagnostic tool. A further assessment, such as skinfold thickness measurements, evaluations of diet, physical activity, and family history would be performed to determine if excess weight is a health risk.

A BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in pounds by height in inches squared and multiplying by a conversion factor of 703. A BMI below 18.5 is underweight; 18.5-24.9 is normal; 25.0-29.9 is overweight; and 30.0 and above is obese.

If you are labeled overweight or obese, talk to your doctor about how to aim for a healthy weight.

By Dr. Donn Fuhrmann of ThedaCare Physicians-New London.