How is BMI Calculated

Obesity is something that has been shown to have negative health effects. Often times, lack of physical activity is stated as one of the major factors of obesity, but a persons diet has been recently shown to also play an important, if not the most important, role in obesity.

According to a study by the Department of Health and Human Studies, obesity has dramatically increased since 1985. They found that by 2007, there was only one state, Colorado, that had an obesity rate lower than 20%. Thirty states were found to have an obesity rate greater than 25% and of these, 3 states were over 30%.

Often, a persons body mass index or BMI is used to determine if a person is obese. BMI was first used in the 1950’s in hopes of creating a standardized method of describing the relationship between a persons weight and their body size.

It should be noted that since BMI is not actually measuring fat, it is not always going to be an accurate metric.

For example, since muscle weighs more than fat, it is possible for someone who is very muscular to be classified as obese. This is often the case with professional athletes. As a result, a persons body mass index should not be relied upon solely to determine obesity.

Instead, it is usually recommended to consider the circumference of an individuals waist and their overall health, such as fitness level, eating habits, and blood pressure, in conjunction with their BMI. This will provide the most accurate indication of obesity.

BMI is also typically only accurate for adults, while not being as good of an indicator for children, teenagers, and seniors.

How is BMI Calculated?

The basic BMI formula is:

BMI = ( Weight in Pounds / (Height in Inches) * (Height in Inches) ) * 703

So to find the BMI of a person that weighs 160 pounds and is 68 inches tall (5ft 8inches):

BMI = (160 / (68 *68) ) * 703

BMI = (160 / 4624) * 703

BMI = (0.034602076) * 703

BMI = 24.33

The BMI scale is shown below, but again it is important to note that BMI should only play a part of determining if someone is obese and should not be the only consideration.


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