Know Your Health Numbers – Body Mass Index (BMI)

Know Your Health NumbersNational Institute of Health Guidelines and Recommendations for Assessing Your Weight and Health Risk
Assessment of weight and health risk involves using three key measures:
• Body mass index (BMI)
• Waist circumference
• Risk factors for diseases and conditions associated with obesity

Body Mass Index (BMI): BMI is a useful measure of overweight and obesity, calculated from your height and weight. BMI is an estimate of body fat and a good gauge of your risk for diseases that can occur with more body fat. The higher your BMI, the higher your risk for certain diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems, and certain cancers.
Although BMI can be used for most men and women, it does have some limits:
•It may overestimate body fat in athletes and others who have a muscular build.
•It may underestimate body fat in older persons and others who have lost muscle.
BMI Standards:
• Underweight Below 18.5                             • Normal 18.5–24.9
• Overweight 25.0–29.9                                 • Obesity 30.0 and Above
Waist Circumference: If most of your fat is around your waist rather than at your hips, you’re at a higher risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. This risk goes up with a waist size that is greater than 35 inches for women or greater than 40 inches for men. To correctly measure your waist, stand and place a tape measure around your middle, just above your hipbones. Measure your waist just after you breathe out.
Risk Factors for Health Topics Associated With Obesity: Along with being overweight or obese, the following conditions will put you at greater risk for heart disease and other conditions:
•High blood pressure (hypertension)
•High LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol)
•Low HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol)
•High triglycerides
•High blood glucose (sugar)
•Family history of premature heart disease
•Physical inactivity
•Cigarette smoking

Even a small weight loss (between 5 and 10 percent of your current weight) will help lower your risk of developing diseases associated with obesity. Talk to your doctor to see whether you are at an increased risk and whether you should lose weight. Your doctor will evaluate your BMI, waist measurement, and other risk factors for heart disease.
Body Mass Index Table and calculator can be accessed from the websites:

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmi_tbl.htm

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm

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