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Are You at a Healthy Body Weight?—Understanding BMI

BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It is calculated from your height and weight. BMI is a useful measure of overweight status and obesity; it 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 disease such as:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gallstones
  • Breathing problems
  • Certain Cancers
  • The Centers for Disease Control

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses BMI to define terms like overweight and obese. Use the BMI tables to estimate your body fat. The BMI score means the following:

BMI chart

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 and your health
People with very low or very high BMI’s tend to have the greatest health risks. Even so, BMI is only one factor in your health. For example, if your BMI falls into the normal weight category, you still have a higher risk of health problems if you:

  • Smoke cigarettes
  • Do not participate in a regular physical activity
  • Eat lots of nutrients – poor foods with added sugar and fat

If your BMI is in the overweight category, you will have a lower overall health risk if you:

  • Get regular physical activity
  • Have blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels that are within normal limits
CHI Health Food and Nutrition Services Team
CHI Health Food and Nutrition Services Team

These blogs are written by members of the CHI Health Nutrition Services team.

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