From blood pressure to cholesterol levels, there are so many numbers to measure and track when it comes to your health. But your Body Mass Index (BMI) is one simple number you can calculate to see where you are, and where you’d like to be, in terms of your overall health.
Your body weight is one of the many factors impacting your health. Excess weight can lead to serious health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
Measuring your Body Mass Index (BMI) is a great first step to evaluate if you’re carrying around excess weight.
We asked Dr. Bobby Kahlon, M.D., primary care physician with Renown Medical Group, for more details on BMI and why it’s important.
“Obesity is a chronic disease that is increasing in prevalence in adults, adolescents, and children and is now considered to be a global epidemic,” says Dr. Kahlon. “Many factors contribute to the development of obesity. However, most cases of obesity are related to behaviors such as a sedentary lifestyle and increased caloric intake.”
Ethnicity and socioeconomic status can also contribute to obesity. “For example, childhood obesity is more common among American Indian, African Americans and Mexican Americans than in non-Hispanic whites,” explains Dr. Kahlon. “Having one obese parent increases the risk of obesity by two- to threefold, and up to 15-fold if both parents are obese. Obesity is also more prevalent among low-income, less educated, or rural populations.”
What’s Considered a Healthy Range for Body Mass Index?
BMI is calculated from your weight divided by your height squared:
BMI = body weight (in kg) ÷ height (in centimeters) squared
And it’s okay if you don’t enjoy math – use this easy BMI calculator from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
BMI classifications for adults are based upon risk of heart disease. The recommended classifications for BMI adopted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and World Health Organization (WHO) for Caucasian, Hispanic, and African American individuals are:
|BMI (kg/m2)||Classification||Risk for Heart Disease|
|Less than 18.5||Underweight||–|
|18.5 – 24.9||Normal Weight||–|
|25 – 29.9||Overweight||Increased|
|(35 – 39.9)||Class I||Very High|
|(40 +)||Class II||Extremely High|
How to Put Yourself in the Healthy Range
If your BMI falls into the overweight or obese ranges, talk with your primary care provider about ways to lose weight with healthy lifestyle changes.
Start by incorporating small changes into your everyday routine. Get more physical activity by taking a daily walk or finding no-equipment body workouts online.
While exercise promotes fitness, eating a diet with more fruits, vegetables and whole grains is key to weight loss. Eliminating processed foods filled with excess saturated fats, sodium and sugar from your diet is vital – as is making water your beverage of choice. Consistent exercise and nutritious, portion controlled meals are part of a sensible plan to help lower your BMI and decrease your risk for heart disease, diabetes and other health problems.