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How is Obesity Measured?

In recent years, the body mass index (BMI) has become the medical standard used to measure overweight and obesity.

Body Mass Index

Body Mass Index (BMI) can be used to measure both overweight and obesity in adults. It is the measurement of choice for many obesity researchers and other health professionals. BMI is a direct calculation based on height and weight, and it is not gender-specific. Most health organizations and published information on overweight and its associated risk factors use BMI to measure and define overweight and obesity. BMI does not directly measure percent of body fat, but it provides a more accurate measure of overweight and obesity than relying on weight alone.

BMI Not Perfect

BMI is a height-weight system of measurement that applies to both sexes. It’s not a perfect system, because (e.g.) very muscular people may fall into the “overweight” category when they are actually healthy and fit. But it’s a useful pointer for most people.

How is Body Mass Index (BMI) calculated?

BMI is found by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by height in meters squared.

Body Mass Index Formula

The BMI mathematical formula is:

BMI = kg/m2

Note: To determine your BMI using pounds and inches, multiply your weight in pounds by 704.5, then divide the result by your height in inches, and divide that result by your height in inches a second time.

To determine BMI using pounds and inches

Multiply your weight in pounds by 704.5, then divide the result by your height in inches, and divide that result by your height in inches a second time.

Note: The multiplier 704.5 is used by the National Institutes of Health. Other organizations may use a slightly different multiplier; for example, the American Dietetic Association suggests multiplying by 700. The variation in outcome (a few tenths) is insignificant.

Child Obesity Measured By BMI-For-Age

Obesity in children is measured differently. New pediatric growth charts are used to plot BMI-for-age, which compares a child’s weight with that of other children of the same gender and age.

Weight Loss Advice

No matter how much excess weight or fat you have, if you want to lose weight permanently, your diet program should be directed toward a slow, steady weight loss. According to official government dietary guidelines, unless your doctor feels your particular health condition would benefit from more rapid weight loss, you should expect to lose no more than 2 pounds of fat a week, although initial loss (mainly water) may be greater. Losing more weight is no guarantee that weight loss is likely to be permanent.

More About Severe Overweight

Causes of Obesity
Obesity Treatment Methods
Treatment of Morbidly Obese Patients
Obesity in Children
Abdominal Obesity Guide
Mild Obesity Guide
Morbid Obesity Guide
Malignant Obesity Guide
Super Obesity Guide


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