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Body Mass Index

Body Mass Index, or BMI, is basically the measure of human body fat based on an individual’s weight and height.  It is calculated by dividing individual’s body weight by the square of his/ her height. BMI invented between 1830 and 1850 by the Belgian polymath Adolphe Quetelet, so it is also called Quetelet index.

It provides a simple numeric measure of a person’s weight in relation to his height, allowing health professionals to discuss over- and under-weight problems more objectively with their patients. Therefore, a person’s weight category can be categorized according to his or her BMI.

Following table shows different people categorized by their body weight reflected through BMI.

Category BMI range – kg/m2 Mass (weight) of a 1.8 meters (5 ft 11 in) person with this BMI
Severely underweight Less than 16.0 Less than 53.5 kilograms (118 lb)
Underweight Between 16.0 to 18.5 Between 53.5 and 59.9 kilograms (118 and 132 lb)
Normal Between 18.5 to 25 Between 60 and 80.9 kilograms (130 and 178 lb)
Overweight Between 25 to 30 Between 81 and 96.9 kilograms (180 and 214 lb)
Obese (Class I) Between 30 to 35 Between 97 and 112.9 kilograms (210 and 249 lb)
Obese (Class II) Between 35 to 40 Between 113 and 129.9 kilograms (250 and 286 lb)
Obese (Class III) Above 40 Over 130 kilograms (290 lb)


BMI for Children

BMI is used differently for children.  It is calculated the same way as for adults, but then compared to values of other children of the same age.  Instead of set thresholds for underweight and overweight, the BMI percentile allows comparison with children of the same sex and age. Therefore, people of age 20 or older, with BMI less than 5 percentile, are considered underweight and above 95 percentile are considered overweight.

Know your BMI

Knowing your BMI is very important for every person, as

  • BMI is a reliable indicator of body fatness and is used to screen weight categories that may lead to health problems.
  • It is one very good way to know where you are and where you need to go with your diet.
  • It helps the doctor to determine whether the patient requires a surgery treatment for obesity, or it can be cured by exercise or diet plans.
  • It also helps bariatric surgeons to identify and analyze patient’s weight status and determine the type of surgery, best for him.


Therefore, BMI is a gross estimate for the amount of fat in your body which tells you whether you need to lose weight or stay where you are.