Body Mass Index

A person's Body Mass Index is a result of measuring body fat as calculated by multiplying an individual's weight in pounds (or kilograms) by their height in inches (or meters)squared. This type of measurement is used for assessing adult adiposity (body fat), and is a means of tracking a population's illnesses in relation to weight and, in particular, obesity.

Body Mass Index is broken down into percentiles on a continuum from 19 (thin but within normal range) to 54 (morbidly obese). When an individual's BMI is below the 19th percentile it is cause for concern as that person is considered near starvation. An individual with a Body Mass Index of over 35 (35th percentile)would be considered morbidly obese. Individuals would enter his or her height and weight information into a Body Mass Index calculator and be shown his or her place on the Body Mass Index chart. This body fat index chart can be helpful in determining where on the continuum an individual is concerning her or his weight and fat content, and if they need to investigate how to better meet their nutritional needs.

BMI calculations are not without their errors. The system of measurement does not take into account muscle mass or body type versus adipose tissue. An example of this is that a weight lifter and an obese person could weight the same, and the two individuals, having very different body types, would have the same BMI, irregardless of circumstance. Body Mass Index charts are used in determining child obesity statistics and trends of weight gain in children's populations.

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