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Body Mass Index


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If you walk into a gym or nutritionist, the first thing they will do is take your Body Mass Index. So what is it and why it is so important for your health? Let’s explore Body Mass Index over here…

Body Mass Index or BMI is a generic measurement for total fat content in an individual’s body as compared to his/her height. The universally accepted values for BMI are:



Weight status

Below 18.5


18.5 – 24.9


25.0 – 29.9


30.0 and Above



Benefit of knowing BMI in day to day life

Calculating BMI is very simple and once you know your BMI, you can make different changes in your diet and lifestyle to maintain it within normal range.


Knowing your BMI helps you in the following ways:

  • To understand your exercise routine for losing or gaining weight
  • To formulate a diet plan that would help to lose body fat or gain body mass
  • Encourages you to take up other health tests to evaluate risk of heart disease, diabetes, etc. and take actions to avert them

The biggest advantage is it’s free of cost, easy and simple. Anyone can calculate BMI by self.


How is BMI calculated?

A particular formula is used to calculate Body Mass Index. You can put the values in different units of measurements as shown below.

BMI calculation formula 1: weight (lb- pounds) / [height (in)]2 x 703

BMI calculation formula 2: weight (kg) / [height (m)]2

Instead of manual calculation, you can opt for online calculation for quick results. Just put in your weight and height properly to get your BMI.

BMI machine is used in health care clinics, gyms and nutritionists’ offices where your weight and height are measured a detailed report is obtained showing parameters like total fat, protein and water content in your body compared with the normal values.


BMI for children and teens

Many school focus strongly on health of students and BMI test is a mandatory screening test in such institutions. The standard formula is used to detect the fat content of kids.

However, since the body undergoes several changes in growth years, other tests might be conducted before naming someone downrightly obese or underweight.

As per CDC, “BMI-for-age growth charts (i.e. for teens and children) take into account differences in age and sex and allow translation of a BMI number into a percentile for a child's sex and age.


How to prepare for BMI test?

If you are calculating online or manually then quite obviously you don’t have to prepare.

For machine observations, you should not consume any food 2 hours before the test.


How accurate is BMI?

BMI is fairly accurate. Simply put, it’s the most basic way to find out of fat content in the body.


What factors affect BMI?

The correlation factor with fat becomes a question when it’s analyses in terms of the gender, age and physical activity of individuals. This is because, women tend to have more body fat than men, and so do older people than young. Furthermore, athletes and body builders might have high BMI due to high percentage of body mass.

If your BMI is calculated with a machine, then test reports would vary as per your immediate diet and physical activity. 

The bottom line: Once you figure out deviation of your BMI from normal range, make sure you consult a doctor to rule out any underlying health risk.

written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: October 27, 2014

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