Body Mass Index

Body Mass Index is popularly known as BMI, and is your weight divided by height. Measuring BMI is not a diagnostic tool, rather it is a broad way to categorize whether a person is underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese based on overall tissue mass/body weight and height. Ranges of BMI help determine which category of weight a person can measure. Measuring BMI is helpful to be able to determine potential health problems such as malnutrition, eating disorders, heart health risks, diabetes, and other health issues.  

Measuring BMI 

Being overweight or obese can cause an increased risk for heart disease, cancer, stroke, hypertension, type-2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and other chronic health problems. Learning how to measure your BMI and how to reduce your risk for chronic disease is really simple. BMI is an indirect calculation of your height in inches and weight in pounds. Use the formula (w/ (hx2))x703 to determine your BMI. There are also BMI calculators available online.  

A BMI between 18.4 to 24.9 is considered healthy; 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight. A BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese. According to the National Health and Nutrition Survey, the average BMI for adult males and females in the United States is around 26.5. Considering that the average BMI of 26.5 is overweight, it dictates that dietary and lifestyle change is necessary for many Americans.  

Measuring Your Height 

Usually when your height is measured in a doctors office, a stadiometer is used. A stadiometer is the long ruler attached to the wall that has a sliding horizontal headpiece that is adjusted to stop and rest at the top of your head. Measuring your own height at home can be a bit trickier but can be done accurately with or without assistance. Some tips to ensure an accurate at-home reading of your height:  

  • First find a flat object such as a ruler or a book. You will also need an erasable marking tool such as a pencil and a measuring tape. 
  • Stand straight against a wall with your back straight and feet flat.  
  • Place the flat object of choice at the top of your head. Be sure the measuring tool is straight and parallel to the floor.  
  • Use the marking tool or pencil to mark where the measuring tool touches the top of your head.  
  • Lastly, measure from the floor to your mark.  

Measuring Your Weight 

Measuring your weight can easily be calculated using a scale. For the most accurate reading, remove shoes and other heavy clothing. You will want to be consistent with your measuring, weighing yourself the same way each time. A typical guideline is to measure once a week in the morning. Measuring your weight more than once a week can create an inaccurate reading given daily fluctuations that change on a day-to-day basis.  

Tools for Health Assessment 

Using BMI, which is a ratio between height and total body weight, does not distinguish between the weight from muscle or from fat. This is important to consider because muscle weighs more than fat, and a person with lean fat and more muscle may have an inaccurate health assessment using a BMI ratio.  

If you are concerned about your weight, contact your doctor or healthcare professional to discuss your BMI and overall health assessment.