Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women.
BMI is a measurement of a person's leanness or corpulence based on their height and weight, and is intended to quantify tissue mass. It is widely used as a general indicator of whether a person has a healthy body weight for their height. Specifically, the value obtained from the calculation of BMI is used to categorize whether a person is underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese depending on what range the value falls between. These ranges of BMI vary based on factors such as region and age, and are sometimes further divided into subcategories such as severely underweight or very severely obese. Being overweight or underweight can have significant health effects, so while BMI is an imperfect measure of healthy body weight, it is a useful indicator of whether any additional testing or action is required. Refer to the table below to see the different categories based on BMI that are used by the calculator.
BMI is not used for muscle builders, long distance athletes, pregnant women, the elderly or young children. This is because BMI does not take into account whether the weight is carried as muscle or fat, just the number. Those with a higher muscle mass, such as athletes, may have a high BMI but not be at greater health risk. Those with a lower muscle mass, such as children who have not completed their growth or the elderly who may be losing some muscle mass may have a lower BMI. During pregnancy and lactation, a woman's body composition changes, so using BMI is not appropriate.