Body Mass Index / BMI Calculator

About BMI

BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It is used to estimate a healthy body weight based on a person's height. Because is easy to calculate, BMI is the most widely used diagnostic tool to identify weight problems within a population and is often used to identify if people are underweight, overweight, or considered obese. However, it is not the most accurate because two people can have the same BMI but different levels of body fat due to the fact that muscle weighs more than fat. An elite athlete may have an identical BMI to a sedentary individual of the same height and weight, but the elite athlete will be considered "healthier" since his body fat percentage is lower. A high percentage of body fat is unhealthy because it increases susceptibility to heart disease, Type II diabetes, cancers, and other various medical problems.

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The Calculation

A BMI calculator considers a Normal reading to be between 18.5-24.9. Individuals are considered Underweight if their BMI is less than 18.5. Overweight is between a BMI reading of 25-29.9, and an individual is considered to be Obese if the BMI calculation is over 30. Use the FitLink BMI calulator above to determine your BMI. Remember, if you are a fit individual with a low body fat percentage but a high BMI, your reading may be slightly off. See the About BMI box for more details.

Body Fat Percentage

A normal body fat percentage for women is between 21-33% for ages 20-40, 23-34% for ages 41-60, and 24-36% for ages 61-79. For men, a healthy range for body fat is 8-19% for ages 20-40, 11-21% for ages 41-60, and 13-24% for ages 61-79. Below that percentage is considered Underfat, and above that percentage is considered overweight (up to 6% more) or obese. Thus, a woman is considered obese if she is over 39% for ages 20-40, over 40% for ages 41-60, or over 42% for ages 61-79. A man is considered to be obese if he is over 25% for ages 20-40, over 27% for ages 41-60, or over 30% for ages 61-79. There are many ways to determine your body fat percentage, but unfortunately the more accurate they are, the more of a hassle (and the more expensive) they are. Even the most accurate tests still have a 2-3% error rate in the reading.

Bottom Line

Results can vary based on your body type, so don't stress TOO much about the exact number. Be active for 30 minutes a day and choose healthy foods to nourish your body with, treating yourself to an occasional yummy treat 1-2 times per week so that you don't feel deprived and binge later.

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