Get exclusive member benefits & effect social change. Join Today
The body mass index (BMI)—also known as the Quetelet index—is a formula used to calculate a person’s body fat content based on his or her weight and height. The World Health Organization (WHO) has used the tool to calculate obesity rates since the 1980s.
One major shortcoming of the test is that it doesn’t take into account frame size or muscularity. Therefore, even a professional athlete may fall into the “obese” range on the index scale because of the weight of muscle on his or her frame.
You can calculate your body mass index to determine your body fat content. If your body fat level is too high, you are at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease.
You will need to know your weight and height. For the most accurate results, use height and weight measurements taken at a doctor’s office or clinic.
Your body mass index is calculated by dividing your body weight by the square of your height. If your measurements are in inches and pounds, you must multiply the formula by 703.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a body mass index calculator on its website at www.cdc.gov.
Example from CDC:
Weight = 150 lbs, Height = 5’5" (65")
Calculation: [150 ÷ (65)2] x 703 = 24.96
So, an adult who is 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs 150 pounds has a BMI of 24.96, right on the border between “normal weight” and “overweight.”
The body mass index scale follows these guidelines:
If your BMI is greater than 25, ask your doctor about how to lose weight, improve your lifestyle habits, and stay in optimal health.
Written by: Brian Krans
Published on: Aug 15, 2012
Medically reviewed : George Krucik, MD
Enter your symptoms in our Symptom Checker to find out possible causes of your symptoms. Go.
Enter any list of prescription drugs and see how they interact with each other and with other substances. Go.
Enter its color and shape information, and this tool helps you identify it. Go.
Find information on drug interactions, side effects, and more. Go.
From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.
Members save 15% on lunch and dinner every day at Outback Steakhouse.
Members save 50% on a monthly selection of Kindle e-books from Amazon.
Have a hassle-free car buying experience and save with the AARP Auto Buying Program.
Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.
Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.
Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.
Register at a location near you to keep your driving skills sharp.
Find opportunities to volunteer in your neighborhood.
NASCAR champ Jeff Gordon teams up with AARP Foundation.