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Nutrition Advice and Body Mass Index

You can download Body Mass Index Calculator (it has more features) or use our Online BMI Calculator below

You may also visit our online Nutrition Database to research the nutrition facts for most known food products.

What is body mass index?

The Index is primarily a statistical tool, designed for public health studies, which enables the investigation and comparison of any medical data set in which the height and weight of subjects were recorded, to determine whether obesity was a correlate in health outcomes. It should be noted that the BMI serves as an estimate of adiposity in a sample data set. If standard bioelectrical impedance data were routinely included in such data sets (detailing actual adiposity), the BMI would become obsolete. But since height and weight are routinely recorded in data sets for a wide variety of investigations, across many countries, while the more precise measures are not, the BMI has offered public health statisticians by far the broadest, if fuzzy, overview of the correlations between overweight and health stress. It is equal to the weight in kilograms, divided by the square of the height in metres:

Weight: lbs.
Height: Ft. In.

Body Mass Index
According to the Energy, Obesity, and Body Weight Standards published by American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, your category is:

(In U.S. customary units, it is 703.07 times the weight in pounds, divided by the square of the height in inches.)

The exact index values used to determine weight categories vary from authority to authority, but in general a BMI less than 18.5 is underweight and may indicate malnutrition, an eating disorder, or other health problem, while a BMI greater than 25 is overweight and above 30 is considered obese. These range boundaries apply to adults over 20 years of age.

Since BMI does not take into account a person's body fat percentage, it is possible to have an above average body weight and BMI, but not be obese. A bodybuilder, for example, can have a BMI above 30 because of a high percentage of muscle mass. If they also had a low percentage of body fat, they would not need to lose weight to be healthy.

Body mass index calculations are not just for adults though, and they can be used to identify the growing number of overweight children. BMI for kids aged 2 to 20 years is calculated just like it is for adults, but it is interpreted differently. Instead of set cutoff numbers for being underweight and overweight, like for adults, it is their BMI percentile that is important.

For children, a BMI that is less than the 5th percentile is considered underweight and above the 95th percentile is overweight. And children with a BMI between the 85th and 95th percentile are considered to be at risk of becoming overweight. For information on achieving your optimal Body Mass Index please refer to the nutrition advice in the left menu: fitness, nutrition, dieting and bodybuilding

Given the reservations detailed above concerning the limitations of the BMI as a diagnostic tool for individuals, the following are common definitions of BMI thresholds:

BMI Result Category Comments
Under 20 Underweight This result is considered underweight. Underweight is associated with increased health problems, including osteoporosis (bone wasting disease) and in women irregular menstrual periods, and infertility.
20 to 24.9 Healthy Weight This is within the healthy weight range. You are at a much lower risk for other health problems.
25 to 29 Overweight Within this range or higher is considered overweight. Overweight is associated with increased health problems.
Above 30 Obese At or above this range is considered obese. Obesity is associated with a high risk for health problems. A BMI above 40 is considered severely obese, and is associated with a very high risk of health problems associated with excess weight.

Competitive athletes and body builders, whose BMI may be high due to increased muscle mass, and women who are pregnant or lactating can be exceptions to the standard BMI score. The BMI is also not ideal for use in measuring growing children or elderly individuals.

Dieting Tips

Be aware of what you drink! It's amazing how many extra calories are in the sodas, juices, and other drinks. Cutting out soda completely can save you 360 calories or more each day. Move your body! You may find that you don't need to give up calories as much as you need to get off your behind. And don't get stuck in the rut of thinking you have to play a team sport or take an aerobics class - try a variety of activities from hiking to cycling to rowing until you find ones you like. For more information on exercise click here. Start small! Drastic changes are much harder to stick with than small changes. Try reducing the size of the portions you eat and giving up regular soda for a week. Once you have that down, start gradually introducing healthier foods and exercise into your life. Stop eating when you're full! Lots of teens (and adults) eat when they're bored, lonely, or stressed or keep eating long after they're full out of habit. Slowing down can help because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to recognize how much is in your stomach. Avoid eating when you feel upset or bored - try to find something else to do instead (a walk around the block or a trip to the gym are good alternatives).

Eat less more often! Many people find that eating a couple of small snacks throughout the day helps them to make healthy choices at meals. Stick a couple of healthy snacks (carrot sticks, a low fat granola bar, pretzels, or a piece of fruit) in your backpack so that you can have one or two snacks during the day. Adding healthy snacks to your three squares and eating smaller portions when you sit down to dinner can help you to cut calories without feeling deprived. Five a day keeps the pounds away. Trash the junk food and buy lots of fruits and vegetables! Five or more servings of fruits and veggies aren't just a good idea to help you lose weight - they'll help keep your heart and the rest of your body healthy. Other suggestions for eating well: exchange white bread for whole-wheat; drink lots of water and make sure you eat a healthy breakfast. Don't skip breakfast.

For more information on dieting, please refer to the
Dieting section


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