Weight and health are directly related. Overweight and obese people tend to suffer from more health problems than those with a healthy weight. But what is a healthy weight, and how do you figure out what yours should be?

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Body Mass Index is a tool that tells doctors the amount of body fat a person is carrying. BMI is calculated based on two factors: weight and height, measuring a person’s pounds versus their height (in inches). A six foot tall person weighing 175 pounds will have a different BMI than a 175 pound five-foot-four- inch tall person. BMI is a quick way to figure out whether an individual falls within a normal body fat range.

The Body Mass Index – What Does the Number Mean?

BMI helps doctors understand whether a patient is at a normal weight or whether they are overweight or even obese. A BMI below 18.5 indicates that a person is underweight. BMIs between 18.5 and 24.9 are considered normal, while the 25.0 – 29.9 range indicates a person is overweight. BMIs over 30.0 indicate a person is obese.

Calculating BMI

Use this formula to calculate BMI:

BMI = (weight in pounds X 703) / (height in inches X height in inches)

For example, someone who stands five foot ten inches tall and weighs 192 pounds would calculate their BMI like this:

192 pounds X 703 = 134,976.

Five foot ten inches (60 inches) X 60 inches = 4,900.

134,976 divided by 4,900 = a BMI rounded off to 27.5

And if math isn’t your strong suit, there are also many BMI calculators available online.

Is the BMI accurate?

It’s important to remember than the BMI is a general tool. Many factors can influence a person’s BMI, including body type, age, gender and the presence of muscle. Remember, muscle weighs more than fat, so it can influence a person’s BMI – especially among well-conditioned athletes. People of stocky build may also find BMI to be inaccurate measure. That is why it’s so important for people to speak with their doctor about their weight, especially if they are experiencing weight gains and losses, which could indicate other health conditions.

It’s important to watch your weight in order to maintain good health, and BMI is a tool that allows us all to quickly get a handle on where our respective weights should be.