Are you the right weight? It’s a common question, and with so many varied opinions, it’s hard to know how to reach the right answer. One easy place to start is by calculating your body mass index, or BMI.
What is BMI?
Your body mass index, or BMI, is a number based on your weight and height that helps determine if you’re a healthy weight for how tall you are. Generally speaking, the higher the BMI, the more body fat a person has.
How BMI can Help Identify Ideal Healthy Body Weight
BMI can be a tool to help doctors identify people who are overweight and at risk of developing health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. It’s also a way to estimate your weight status and see how close you are to a healthy body weight.
For adults who are at least 20 years old, the following BMI ranges help determine weight status:
Underweight: BMI is less than 18.5
Normal weight: BMI is 18.5 – 24.9
Overweight: BMI is 25 – 29.9
Obese: BMI is 30 or greater
How is BMI Calculated?
You can calculate BMI by dividing your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared and multiplying by a conversion factor of 703. Or you can enter in your information here.
[weight ÷ (height)2] x 703 = BMI
For example, a woman who weighs 165 pounds and stands 5 feet 4 inches tall would calculate her BMI like so:
[165 ÷ (64)2] x 703 = 28.32
With a BMI of 28.32, she would likely be considered overweight for her height.
It’s important to keep in mind that BMI is not a perfect measurement. Individuals with a large frame or lots of muscle, like athletes, can have a higher BMI but be quite healthy. Women also tend to have more body fat than men at the same BMI. And at the same BMI, older adults, on average, tend to have more body fat than younger adults.
In addition, recent research seems to indicate that at the same BMI, being apple shaped and carrying more weight around the belly indicates greater health risk when compared to being pear shaped and carrying weight around the hips.
Still, BMI is a great starting point for determining a healthy weight with the benefit of being easy and free!
Wonder what your ideal healthy body weight might be? Determine your BMI with the NHLBI’s BMI calculator here.
David H. Rahm, M.D. is the founder and medical director of The Wellness Center, a medical clinic located in Long Beach, CA. Dr. Rahm is also president and medical director of VitaMedica. Dr. Rahm is one of a select group of conventional medical doctors who have education and expertise in functional medicine and nutritional science. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rahm has published articles in the plastic surgery literature and educated physicians about the importance of good peri-operative nutrition.