Your Guide to Calculating Your Body Mass Index

Your Guide to Calculating Your Body Mass Index

An estimated 160 million Americans are either overweight or obese. Of these 160 million people, almost 75 percent of American males and more than 60 percent females fall into these overweight and obese categories. To put this into perspective, the most overweight country in North America is the United States with an obesity rate of 32 percent, compared to under four percent in Japan.

Obesity is one of the most critical health risk factors that is presented today. Ironically, it is one that can be controlled through proper lifestyle choices such as good nutrition and exercise. In response to this rising epidemic of weight gain and obesity, guidelines have been developed to assist with the assessment and diagnoses of excessive weight gain. There are three primary factors which determine a person’s health risk due to weight--total body weight, amount and location of body fat, and current health status.

Fortunately, there are assessment tools that can easily be used at home and by those who have no particular education or training within the nutrition realm. The Body Mass Index (BMI) measures a person’s weight in relation to height which then correlates with the content of total body fat. Being “overweight” is defined as having a BMI of 25 to 29.9, and “obesity” is defined as having a BMI of 30 or above. The Body Mass Index is a good general tool to use for the majority of the population, however, there are some short comings. BMI does not account for the body fat location, and research does show that body fat located in some areas (such as in the waist or around the heart) can have exponentially higher health risks than body fat found in the lower half. Moreover, if you are one who hits and the gym with heavy weights and have a highly muscular body composition, your BMI could falsely fall in the overweight or obese categories as muscle is more dense, and therefore, weighs more than fat.

So, you may be wondering, how do I calculate my own BMI? There are many free tools online that will calculate this for you with quick input of simple stats about yourself, or you can calculate yourself by using the following equation:

BMI = {Weight in pounds/height (inches x inches)} x 703

For example, a women who weighs 145 pounds and is 65 inches in height will have a BMI of:

{145/(65 x 65)} x 703 = 24

BMI < 18.5 = Underweight

BMI 18.5 to 24.9 = Normal weight 

BMI 25 to 25.9 = Overweight

BMI > 30 = Obese

As mentioned above, there are some short comings with regard to the Body Mass Index, however, calculating your own BMI is a great jumping off point when considering your overall health and/or the possible need for an improved nutrition plan. After calculating your BMI, if you are questioning your index ranking and what it implies, you may want to consult with your doctor or nutritionist about taking extra steps to measure the status of your health. If the need for a weight loss plan is suggested, you may want to explore consulting with a nutritionist. At Doctor's Best Weight Loss, we offer free nutrition consultations, and our in-house nutritionist will create an individualized meal plan just for you--click here to make your appointment today! 

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