The body mass index (BMI) is used to measure body fat. It’s an approximate figure. It provides a range of healthy and unhealthy weights. Your BMI is an indicator of the risks associated with certain health conditions caused by being overweight. This includes diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and certain cancers. It cannot be used to diagnose disease.
For adults, a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered a normal amount of body fat. As your weight increases, so does your BMI. If your BMI rises above 24.9, you are considered overweight. A BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.
Path to improved well being
It’s possible to lower your BMI as you lower your weight. Many standard weight-loss tips apply for lowering your BMI. This includes:
- Eat healthy. Consumer fewer calories, choose lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Reduce alcohol, sugar, processed foods, sodas, and juices.
- Exercise regularly. This includes cardio and weight-bearing exercises to build muscle and lose fat. This is effective in controlling belly fat. Belly fat increases the risk of certain health conditions.
- Be mindful of portion control. Don’t overeat during meals and snacks.
- Talk to your doctor about ways to lower your BMI or lose weight.
BMI Chart – Adults (Age 20+)
|18.5 – 24.9||Normal or Healthy Weight|
|25.0 – 29.9||Overweight|
|30.0 and above||Obese|
Things to consider
The BMI calculator is different for children and teenagers. It is age and sex specific. That’s because male and female height and weight change during growth and development. It is calculated the same as for adults. But BMI is expressed as a percentile compared to other children of the same sex and age.
BMI Chart – Children and Teens (Ages 2 to 19)
|Weight Status||Percentile Range|
|Normal or Healthy Weight||5th to <85th percentile|
|Overweight||85th to <95th percentile|
|Obese||95th percentile or greater|
If you are concerned about your or your child’s BMI, talk with your family doctor.
The information in these tools should not be relied upon to make decisions about your health. Consult your doctor with questions about your health condition(s) and/or circumstances.
Calculate Your BMI
Questions to ask your doctor
- When should I be concerned with my child’s weight?
- When should I start checking my BMI? How often should I check?
- Does BMI account for muscle?
The information in these tools should not be relied upon to make decisions about your health. Always consult your family doctor with questions about your individual condition(s) and/or circumstances.
Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.