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What Is A Healthy BMI, Actually? What Science Says

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What Is A Healthy BMI, Actually? What Science Says

Body weight is one aspect of your physical health, but what weight range is healthy for you depends on several factors. The main factor is your height. Your BMI, or body mass index, is a way to measure the amount of body fat you have based on how tall you are.

In the medical field, there are ranges for what is considered a healthy BMI and an unhealthy BMI. Even though BMI calculators may not be 100% accurate, BMI is still recognized as an accurate way to determine whether someone is a healthy weight.

There isn’t one number for a healthy BMI. Instead, a healthy BMI includes a range and to determine whether you fall within the healthy range, you’ll have to first calculate your BMI. Keep reading to find out what a healthy BMI is and how accurate these measurements are.

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Your BMI is a way to find out whether you have a healthy weight for your height.


What Is a Healthy BMI?

BMI stands for body mass index and it’s a way to determine whether an individual is at a healthy weight for their height. The BMI measurement is recognized by organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Although just your weight and height alone aren’t enough to determine your exact percentage of body fat, a BMI calculator can give you a clear idea of whether you fall in a healthy or unhealthy range.

The general range for a healthy BMI according to the CDC and the WHO is between 18.5 and 24.9. According to these organizations, falling within this range means you’re at a healthy weight. Anything less than 18.5 indicates someone is underweight, and anything over 24.9 indicates someone is overweight or obese.

Compared to the CDC, the World Health Organization makes several distinctions, such as the difference between severely underweight as well as the difference between overweight or moderately obese and severely obese.

Here’s a look at the ranges according to the World Health Organization:

  • Severely underweight: < 16 kg/m^2
  • Underweight: 16.0-18.4 kg/m^2
  • Healthy weight: 18.5-24.9 kg/m^2
  • Overweight: 25-29.9 kg/m^2
  • Moderately obese: 30.0-34.9 kg/m^2
  • Severely obese: 35-39.9 kg/m^2
  • Morbidly obese: greater than or equal to 40.0 kg/m^2

Based on these ranges, a healthy BMI is one that falls between 18.5 and 24.9 for a healthy adult. However, there are some things to keep in mind when it comes to deciding what’s healthy for each person.

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If you know your weight and height, it's easy to calculate your BMI with an online tool.


How to Measure Your BMI

To measure your BMI, you’ll need to know your weight and height. Calculating your own BMI can be a great way to determine whether you’re within a healthy range.

Although there is a specific formula for calculating your BMI, the simplest way to do it is to use a BMI calculator, like the one on the CDC’s website. With an online calculator, all you have to do is put in your height and weight and it will automatically provide you with your BMI.

If you’re curious how BMI is actually calculated, the specific formula is: 

Weight (lb) / [height (in)]2 x 703

This formula represents how to calculate your BMI. You start by dividing your weight by your height squared and then multiply it by 703. Then, you round to the nearest decimal place. You can calculate this formula on your own with a handheld calculator if you choose or you can use the online BMI calculator.

What Does Your BMI Mean?

Even though most major health organizations recognize BMI measurements, you might wonder what the purpose of the BMI calculator is and what it determines. BMI is a way to determine the amount of body fat on a person’s body, but it can’t accurately determine someone’s body fat percentage.

It’s a broad way of determining whether someone is a healthy weight, underweight, or overweight depending on the standard ranges for their height. This calculation is important because of the risks involved in being an unhealthy weight.

On one end of the spectrum, being obese or overweight comes with numerous risks. Obesity can contribute to an individual’s risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses. Obesity is one of the major risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

On the other end, being underweight comes with risks as well. As much as there is an emphasis in our society on being thin, there are many risks that come with not receiving enough nutrients as well. Being underweight or severely underweight can increase the risk of certain cardiovascular issues, neurological disorders, and mental health disorders.

Are BMI Measurements Accurate?

Even though most doctors recognize BMI calculators as an important tool, some have questioned the accuracy of BMI calculators. While they might serve their purpose in determining whether someone falls within a healthy weight range, there are several concerns about the BMI calculator.

The BMI measurements are limited in numerous ways. They don’t account for various health conditions, age, or the difference in body type between men and women. Although the BMI calculator can provide a general idea of your health, your BMI isn’t the only way to determine how healthy you are. If you have any concerns about your physical health or you have an unhealthy BMI according to the calculator, It’s best to speak with your doctor about your specific health concerns.

Final Thoughts

Your BMI, or body mass index, is a quick and easy way to determine whether you’re a healthy weight or unhealthy weight. Although there are many factors that can contribute to your overall health, the CDC, WHO, and other experts recognize the BMI calculator as a way to determine the amount of body fat an individual has.

Generally, for adults, a healthy BMI falls between 18.5 and 24.9. The easiest way to find out your BMI if you know your weight and your height is to use an online BMI calculator.

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