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Body Mass Index

Alternate Names

  • body mass index, BMI
  • Quetelet's index

Definition

Body mass index, or BMI, is a standard used to judge degree of body fat. It is determined by dividing an individual's weight in kilograms by an individual's height in meters squared.

Information

BMI tables are taking the place of the standard height-weight tables. BMI, along with waist measurement, can be used to check if an individual is at increased risk for developing a number of chronic diseases.
Body mass index has some limitations. It may overestimate body fat in athletes with muscular builds and it my underestimate body fat in older individuals with significant muscle atrophy. This is the reason many tables also include at waist circumference measurement.
A BMI between 20 and 25 is desirable for most adults. People with a BMI between 25 and 29 are considered overweight. Those between the ranges of 27 and 29 may be at greater risk for other diseases if they have two or more risk factors.
Risk factors are as follows:
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • sleep apnea
  • type 2 diabetes
A BMI of more than 30 indicates obesity.

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