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Get to Know your BMI

What’s my BMI? Why does it matter?

If you’re trying to lose weight—or just improve your lifestyle—it’s a question you may ponder every day. And even if you know the value of your BMI, you may still wonder what that number really means. When it comes to BMI, the best thing you can do is to get to know your number, understand its meaning, and take the necessary steps to get that value where it needs to be with exercise and a healthy diet plan. Here, we will help you better understand the significance of those three letters when it comes to your weight and overall health.

BMI according to Standard Weight Status Categories

The abbreviation “BMI” stands for Body Mass Index. Your body mass index is your weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. The result of this equation provides a snapshot of your weight category, with a high BMI representing higher level of body fat. As discussed below, excess body fat can put you at increased risk for diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. Keep in mind, however, that BMI is not an exact science. Health care professionals may use it to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems, but it is not an absolute diagnostic tool to determine body fat or overall health.

Before we get into how to calculate your BMI, here’s what the number means:

18.4 and under:           Underweight

18.5 to 24.5:                Healthy weight (this is your goal)

25 to 29.9:                   Overweight

30 or above:                Obese

BMI values and ranges are the same for women and men, regardless of age. They are different in children, however.

Let’s Talk Numbers: Calculating your BMI

Now that you understand the values that indicate obesity and overweight, here’s the equation for calculating your BMI:

Weight in pounds divided by [height in inches] squared x 703

For example, if you weigh 130 pounds and are 5’5 inches tall:

130/65 squared (or 4,225) x 703 = 22

Your BMI is 22

To give another example, if you weigh 210 pounds and you are 5’3’’ tall:

210/63 squared (or 3,969) x 703 = 37.2

Your BMI is 37.2

If you’d rather not do the math, you can plug your height and weight into a handy BMI calculator online. You can also use a BMI table to find your BMI.

Getting Down to It: What Your BMI Really Means

By itself, BMI is just a number. Attach it to a person and that person’s overall health and activity level, and it has much more meaning. Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind about BMI and how it relates to health:

BMI indicates body fat

Research has shown, having too much body fat increases risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Usually, the higher the BMI, the higher the risk of these diseases, and the higher the risk of premature death. In most people, a reliable way to determine whether they have too much body fat is to calculate the ratio of their weight to their height squared, or their BMI. Keep in mind that BMI measurement is a screening tool. In order to get the best picture of your health status and risks, see your health care provider.

Taller people have more overall tissue than shorter people, which is why height is part of the equation.

BMI is not a perfect measurement

Your body mass index only looks at your height and weight; it ignores the composition of that body weight. Muscle is denser than fat, so some athletes and muscular people have higher BMIs, even though their body fat percentage is actually in a healthy range. But for most people, BMI is a good indication of body fat.

BMI doesn’t factor in:

– Body composition
– Nutrition
– Exercise habits
– Muscle mass and bone density
– Lifestyle

There are different categories of obesity

After you reach a BMI of 30, obesity can be Class I (BMI 30-34.9), Class II (BMI 35-39.9) and Class III (BMI of 40 or above).

Overweight and obesity rates are getting worse

Unfortunately, BMI is not a value any of us should ignore. Worldwide, rates of obesity have nearly tripled since 1975. According to the World Health Organization, in 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults age 18 and older were overweight; of these, 650 million were obese.

Kids and teenagers have high BMIs, too.

Obesity is a growing problem in younger populations as well. Worldwide, more than 40 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2016; in the 5-19 age range, the number rose to 340 million.

You have control of your BMI

This is the most important takeaway when it comes to BMI. Remember, your BMI is not set in stone. Depending on where you fall on the BMI scale, there are things you can do, such as engaging in the Curves Circuit full body workout and following a weight loss eating plan, to lose or maintain your weight. By keeping your BMI within a healthy range, you can lower your risk of lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease and be the happiest, healthiest you.