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At the bottom of my yearly doctor’s report, it lists ‘BMI.’ What is it?

BMI is our body mass index, which is a measure of body fat based on our height and weight. Instead of just looking at the number on the scale, BMI uses a ratio of height to weight to determine how much body fat we are carrying.

Why is this important in the medical community? BMI is a more accurate gauge than weight alone to help professionals determine who might be at a higher risk for health concerns such as heart disease, elevated blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers, just to name a few. 

Although BMI is not a perfect measure in all cases, it is a great starting point to know if you are one of the estimated 34% of Americans who fall into the overweight or obese categories. Of course, BMI isn’t the only predictor of future health. Where you carry that fat is a factor as well.

Fat that accumulates around the waist and chest tends to be more dangerous than fat around the hips and thighs. If you have a chance to research visceral fat, you’ll get a much better handle on the dangers of this accumulation of fat. Diet, exercise and lifestyle choices are all of equal importance, too.

So, if you want to be on top of your health, grab a tape measure and figure out your true height, then hop on the scale to find your current weight. Plug the numbers into the handy calculator below to find your BMI. 

BMI Categories: 

  • Underweight = <18.5
  • Normal weight = 18.5–24.9
  • Overweight = 25–29.9
  • Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater
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