BMI stands for body mass index. It is a number that calculates how much you weigh based on how tall you are. It can determine if you’re at a healthy body weight for your height based on population averages.
Because BMI takes into account that people come in different shapes and sizes, a range of 18.5 – 24.9 is considered healthy. Between 25 and 30 is considered overweight. An individual with a BMI of 30 or greater is considered obese, which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, musculoskeletal problems and other health issues.
Yes and no. Because the “normal” numbers are based on population averages, certain criteria are not taken into consideration. If you are muscular, for example, you may have a BMI that’s considered unhealthy when it’s actually not. On the other hand, if you have a normal BMI, you may still be at risk based on how your body is storing fat. An apple body type, for example, is more prone to disease and early mortality. Waist circumference is sometimes also measured to improve the usefulness of BMI results.
Your BMI could potentially tip off your doctors/health professionals to any health conditions you may be at risk for. It does not diagnose anything by itself so you will need to consult with your doctor for further health assessments. These may include skinfold thickness measurements, diet evaluation, physical activity, family history and other appropriate health screenings
Yes but different criteria are considered. Adults ages 20 and over use the standard weight status categories for all ages, both men and women. With children and teens, a growth chart is used to take into account their pattern and speed of growth. Gender is also considered.
Use the Centers for Disease Control BMI calculator. Visit CDC.gov and find it under Multimedia & Tools on the homepage.
What should I do if my BMI is out of the healthy range?
Dr. Thomas Van Gilder, MD, JD, MPH, is board-certified in internal medicine and general preventive medicine and public health. He currently serves as Humana’s national medical director for wellness, providing medical direction to HumanaVitality and other Humana wellness initiatives.
This material is provided for informational use only and is based on assumed general medical conditions for a typical person. You should consult with your physician to determine what is right for you.
HumanaVitality is not an insurance product.
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