A brief about BMI

chronic disease

The body mass index number defines the relationship between a person’s height and weight, specifically the relationship of their mass in comparison to their height. If you know your BMI, it can help calculate whether your current weight is healthy for your height. BMI is not the only factor used to determine a healthy body weight, but it is one of the most widely accepted and recognized ways to find out if you are at a healthy weight for your height.

BMI Formula

A truck is parked on the side of a road

weight in pounds divided by height in inches squared, multiplied by 703 =

weight in kilos divided by height in meters squared =

example: weight of 130 pounds and height 5’6″

130 / 66 x 703 = 19.163592

70.3 kg / 1.78 x 1.65 = 24.71764

A more accurate way of calculating your bmi is to use a BMI calculator and plug in your weight and height.

The Belgian statistician Adolphe Quetelet

A close up of a person

The term “body mass index” (BMI) was coined by the Belgian statistician Adolphe Quetelet during the nineteenth century as an analytical method of studying the body shape and health of populations. The popularity of BMI expanded greatly during the 1980s amid a “gaining weight” epidemic when many public health organizations began encouraging people to measure their weight and height. These agencies regarded BMI as an attractive alternative to direct measures of body fat about health, despite significant research in the area at that time, because it was cheap and easy to use for epidemiological studies. However, BMI increased in popularity during the 1990s, when it became clear that people with a high BMI were at greater risk of developing heart disease and certain cancers. Today many countries use this index to classify their citizens into different categories for clinical purposes.

The quite misleading interpretation

The most common interpretation is that they are low weight, normal weight, overweight or obese relative to their height. However, others have pointed out that the common usage of BMI as a measure of relative weight can give quite misleading impressions about an individual’s fitness or health risk, as well as the prevalence of such high rates of obesity in a population.

For example, two people with heights 1.75 m and 2.10 m (average 1.85 m) with similar body shapes will have very different BMIs, despite their similar weights. The person with a height of 2.10 m weights 82 kg (180 lb), while the person who is only 1.75 m tall weighs only 57 kg (125 lb). Despite their similar appearances and weights, the first person has a BMI of 26.5 and would be considered obese, while the second one has a BMI of only 18.1 and would be considered thin by weight-for-height standards.

People with slender builds

Similarly, many people with slender builds have been wrongly characterized as unhealthy simply because they have a high BMI. One such misleading conclusion is that obesity is more prevalent among black women than white. Black Americans have a lower average BMI than white Americans, but some studies suggest that overweight and obese blacks are diagnosed with certain diseases less frequently than their white counterparts. Moreover, the people of Africa have had an evolving BMI equal to or higher than that of Europeans for several decades, yet they appear to suffer from fewer heart disease and related health problems.

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