Body mass index
A good way to decide if your weight is healthy for your height is to figure out your body mass index (BMI). You and your health care provider can use your BMI to estimate how much body fat you have.
Being obese puts strain on your heart and can lead to serious health problems. These include:
HOW TO DETERMINE YOUR BMI
Your BMI estimates how much you should weigh based on your height.
There are many websites with calculators that give your BMI when you enter your weight and height.
You can also calculate it yourself:
For example, a woman who weighs 270 pounds and is 68 inches tall has a BMI of 41.0.
Use the chart below to see what category your BMI falls into, and whether you need to be concerned about your weight.
BMI is not always the best way to decide whether you need to lose weight. If you have more or less muscle than is normal, your BMI may not be a perfect measure of how much body fat you have:
Providers use a few methods to decide whether you are overweight. Your provider may also take your waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio into consideration.
Your BMI alone cannot predict your health risk, but most experts say that a BMI greater than 30 (obesity) is unhealthy. No matter what your BMI is, exercise can help reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Remember to always talk to your provider before starting an exercise program.
Jensen MD. Obesity. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 227.
Gahagan S. Overweight and obesity. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 44.
Review Date: 8/17/2014
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.