Your Body Mass Index (BMI) is an estimate of your body fat, based on your height and weight. The higher your BMI, the higher your risk of developing such conditions as heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and type 2 diabetes.
BMI Measurements in Adults
Currently the standard definitions of overweight and obesity used by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) says for adults, a body mass index of 25 or more is considered "overweight" and a BMI of 30 or more is considered "obese". Basically a BMI of 19-25 is considered healthy.
BMI Measurements in Children
For children, the charts of Body-Mass-Index for Age are used, where a BMI greater than the 85th percentile is considered "at risk of overweight" and a BMI greater than the 95th percentile is considered "obese".
How BMI Can Be a Misleading Measurement:
- Body Mass Index changes with age, obviously in children but also in adults.
- For children and the elderly, BMI may be misleading since the muscle and bone to height relationship is changing.
- Men and women are different.
- Short adult women have higher BMI than taller women.
- Race/ethnicity and nationality affect body composition and BMI. In some ethnic groups, such as Pacific Islanders, BMI overestimates fatness and risk.
- Muscular people, athletes and bodybuilders particularly, have high BMI values, but are not fat.
BMI can potentially misclassify people as fat, even though their percentage of body fat is not excessive. Therefore, trust your own judgment about your own body because BMI-based body descriptions can be wrong.
Excessive anxiety is not healthy either. Eat smart, use portion size as your guide and make exercise a habit you can stick with.
There are several BMI calculators available by searching the internet. Rather than try to fit your body into a standard chart, you might wish to utilize technology that can be used by you right now. Sports Health has several BMI analyzers available for you and your athletes.
Phil Hossler, ATC has been an athletic trainer on the scholastic, collegiate and Olympic levels. He has authored 4 books and numerous articles and served as an officer in state and regional athletic training associations for 20 years. He is a member of four halls of fame including the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s.