Understanding Your Body Mass Index (BMI)

The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measuring system that helps to assess the health risks associated with body weight. It is not a measure of the percentage of body fat, but it can be used to estimate a healthy body weight based on the height of a person. Health professionals use BMI and advanced body composition tools including specialized X-ray machines to assess the “risk factors” for certain weight-related health conditions in their patients.

BMI is not a measure of body fat and does not take into account age, gender, ethnicity or mass in adults. However, it is often used as a standard weight class to help doctors track a population’s weight status and identify potential problems in individuals. Using a mathematical formula that compares height and weight, BMI is calculated for adults and women the same way. BMI is calculated from an individual’s body weight, which includes both muscle and fat.

Your BMI is calculated by dividing your weight by your height in kilograms. The higher the BMI, the greater the risk of weight-related health problems.

Like other measures of a healthy body, BMI is a useful tool but it does not detect whether a body weight consists of muscle or fat. BMI does not distinguish between the percentage of a person’s total weight that consists of muscle and the percentage that consists of fat.

The resulting measurement of body mass index (BMI) gives an idea of a person’s correct weight and height. While the BMI number does not distinguish between the various components that comprise the entire body weight, athletes are best served by using a more direct measure of body composition and body fat. The BMI calculation can also be used to examine the general population for the health risks associated with too much body fat or too much.

While some people with an overweight BMI (in the 25-30 range) do not have excess body fat, most people with a BMI of “obese” (equal to or greater than 30) have elevated body fat levels. People in the “normal” BMI range are at a higher risk of health problems.

At the other end of the spectrum, shorter people typically have a lower BMI because their body fat percentage is lower. The correlation between body fat and BMI is strong and thus even if two people have the same body fat levels, the body fat levels may differ. BMI should be age and gender specific in children and adolescents as the amount of body fat may change with age and the amount of body fat may vary between girls and boys.

For a Body Mass Index of 7.03, divide your weight in pounds by your height (or square) in inches and multiply it by 1 inch for a conversion factor of 7.03.

When you exercise, your muscle mass increases, which increases your overall body weight. Your muscle mass also increases the speed at which you burn energy (calories). This increases and accelerates your basic metabolic rate (BMR) that helps you reduce excess body fat and lose weight in a healthy way.

In fact, knowing your BMI can help you and your GP to determine whether the health risk is in a healthy range. Although BMI can be useful in early detection of children and adults for body weight problems, it should be within its limits.

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