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How to Calculate Your BMI and What It Means

Natalie
Stein
May 20, 2022
How to Calculate Your BMI and What It Means|
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In this article:

  • Body mass index, or BMI, can help detect overweight or obesity. 
  • You can calculate your BMI by dividing your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters. You can also use a BMI chart or BMI calculator.
  • The BMI chart for men and women is the same, but you should always talk to your doctor and consider other factors besides BMI when assessing health. 
  • Lark can help you make small changes to achieve a healthier BMI if yours puts you in the overweight or obese category and your healthcare provider suggests losing weight or making other lifestyle changes, such as eating healthier foods or being more physically active.

What does BMI mean? How much should I weigh? Where can I find a BMI chart for women versus men?

The body mass index, or BMI, is a calculated value. It considers your height and weight to give a number that is used to assess weight status. Using the concept of BMI can help you answer the question, "How much should I weigh?"

It's important to remember that each person's ideal body weight can be different, and you should talk to your doctor about what a healthy weight is for you and how to achieve it.

How to Calculate Body Mass Index

You can calculate BMI by taking your weight in kilograms and dividing it by the square of your height in meters. Or, you can use pounds and inches and multiply that by 703. 

An easier way to find BMI is to use a BMI calculator, like this one.

Supplied by BMI Calculator USA

BMI Chart for Women versus Men

"How much should I weigh?" Another way to calculate BMI is to look at a BMI chart. You can use the following chart.

To find your BMI, find your height along the left side of the chart and trace a line across to the right. Find your weight along the top edge of the chart and trace a line down. Find where those lines intersect to see your BMI.

You can also use a BMI chart to find a goal weight. Find your height along the left side of the chart and trace a line across to the right. When you get to your goal BMI, usually between 18.5 and 24.9, turn upwards until you reach the top of the chart. Read your goal weight in pounds.

Interpreting Body Mass Index for Adults

After calculating your BMI, you can check which category it falls into, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

BMI Category BMI Number Underweight

< 18.5 kg/m2

Normal weight

18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2

Overweight

25 to 29.9 kg/m2

Obesity

‚â• 30 kg/m2

When Body Mass Index Is Misleading

Since percent body fat can be important for health, you might be wondering,"Is the BMI chart a body fat calculator?" It's not, but the CDC says people with a higher BMI are likely to have a higher body fat percentage.

Still, here are some reasons why BMI might be misleading as an indicator of body fat.

  • People with a lot of muscle mass, such as bodybuilders and elite athletes can have an overweight BMI even if they have a low body fat percentage. That's because their muscles weigh a lot.
  • Elderly adults who have lost a lot of muscle mass can have a higher body fat percentage than you might expect if you look just at their BMI.

There's another twist. Where the fat is on your body is also important. People with a "pear-shaped" body have more fat around their thighs and hips. It's not as unhealthy. Women are more likely to have this body type, so it's important to consider that when thinking about BMI for women.

People with an "apple-shaped" body have more fat around their belly. That's more unhealthy. Men are more likely to have this body type. This can affect the thinking about BMI for men.

Harvard Medical School points out that BMI is just one indicator of health. Other examples of health metrics are blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. To get a good picture of health or to create a wellness plan, it doesn't make sense to look at one single metric. Instead, you look at a variety of aspects of health. Your BMI is just one part of your overall health profile.

I Know My BMI…Now What?

If your BMI puts you in the overweight or obese category, you may have some health risks, such as higher risk for one or more of the following.

  • High blood sugar or type 2 diabetes.
  • Hypertension.
  • High cholesterol.
  • Arthritis.
  • Heart disease.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) gives these four steps to better health.

  1. Control your weight. Lark has tips for losing weight if you are overweight, or keeping it off if you are at goal weight. You can make small changes to lose weight and keep it off without feeling deprived.
  2. Be physically active. Most adults should get at least 150 minutes per week of physical activity. Lark can help you fit your activity into your lifestyle.
  3. Eat a healthy diet. Are you getting vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins? How is your intake of healthy fats and fruit? Are fried foods, processed meats, and refined starches and sugars routine or rare? Lark can help you make healthy choices to improve your diet quality. 
  4. Know your numbers. Stay on top of your progress, and stay motivated, when you log food and activity, and track weight, with Lark. Lark can also help you track blood pressure if you have hypertension, or blood sugar if you have diabetes.

Losing a few extra pounds can be a great goal if your BMI is high. Weight loss can boost health, energy, and confidence. It can be simple. And it can happen as part of your regular lifestyle. You can even eat your favorite foods and lose weight.

Lark makes weight loss simple and fun. With Lark, weight loss and healthy living happen when you make small changes that fit into your lifestyle. Lark offers tips, tracking, instant feedback, and friendly suggestions. Over time, small healthy changes can become habits for long-term success. Your personal Lark coach is available 24/7 through your smartphone so you can get expert tips, track meals, physical activity, and weight loss. 

The entire Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) program may be available at no cost to you if your health insurer covers it and you have prediabetes. Or, you may qualify for other Lark programs. Click here to find out if you may be eligible for Lark! You could be minutes away from taking the first steps to hitting your weight loss goals and improving health.

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