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Jun 12, 2010

Body Mass Index

The body mass index (BMI), or Quetelet index, is a statistical measure of body weight based on a person's weight and height. Though it does not actually measure the percentage of body fat, it is used to estimate a healthy body weight based on a person's height. Due to its ease of measurement and calculation, it is the most widely used diagnostic tool to identify weight problems within a population, usually whether individuals are underweight, overweight  or obese.

Body mass index is defined as the individual's body weight divided by the square of his or her height.
The formulae universally used in medicine produce a unit of measure of kg/m2.
 BMI can also be determined using a BMI chart, which displays BMI as a function of weight (horizontal axis) and height (vertical axis) using contour lines for different values of BMI or colours for different BMI categories.

BMI provided a simple numeric measure of a person's "fatness" or "thinness", allowing health professionals to discuss over- and under-weight problems more objectively with their patients. However, BMI has become controversial because many people, including physicians, have come to rely on its apparent numerical authority for medical diagnosis, but that was never the BMI's purpose; it is meant to be used as a simple means of classifying sedentary (physically inactive) individuals with an average body composition.  

For these individuals, the current value settings are as follows: 

  • a BMI of 18.5 to 25 may indicate optimal weight
  • a BMI lower than 18.5 suggests the person is underweight  
  • while a number above 25 may indicate the person is overweight
  • a BMI below 17.5 may indicate the person has anorexia nervosa or a related disorder; 
  • a number above 30 suggests the person is obese 
  • over 40, morbidly obese).

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