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What is BMI, and when do you say that a person is obese? – Part 1

Body Mass Index, or BMI, is a tool that helps you to measure the amount of body fat you have, based on your height and weight.

Body mass index (BMI)

• This measure assesses weight relative to height.
• It is the same as the body mass index used to identify adult obesity.
• BMI is defined as weight (in kilograms) divided by height (in meters) squared (kg/m2).
• BMI can be calculated in pounds and inches.
• BMI is closely related to body fat percentage but much easier to measure.
• BMI is the standard for defining obesity in adults, but its use in children is not universal.

How to calculate BMI?

• Simply measure your height (in inches) and weight (in pounds).
• Multiply your weight by 703.
• Multiply your height times itself.
• Now divide the first answer by your height times itself.

• For example, say you are 5’3″ tall (63 inches), and 130 pounds.
• The first multiplication is simple: (703 x 130 = 91,390).
• Now do the second multiplication: (63 x 63 = 3,969).
• Finally, the division: (91,390 / 3,969 = 23).
• Your BMI is 23.

Interpreting your BMI

• If your BMI is below 18.5, you are considered underweight.
• If your BMI is 18.5 – 24.9, you are considered to be a normal weight.
• If your BMI is 25.0 – 29.9, you are considered overweight.
• If your BMI is above 30, you are considered obese.

How to prevent being obese?

• It is very important to consider some lifestyle changes.
• These changes should incorporate better nutrition and activity choices.
• Obesity has been linked to a number of serious health complications.
• Discuss the diet and exercise plan with either your doctor or a nutritionist.
• Many kids are spending less time exercising and more time in front of the TV, computer, or video-game console.
• Today’s busy families have fewer free moments to prepare nutritious, home-cooked meals.
• From fast food to electronics, quick and easy is the reality for many people.
• Preventing kids from becoming overweight means adapting the way your family eats and exercises.
• Helping kids lead healthy lifestyles begins with parents who have to set an example.

Is Your Child Overweight?

Kids fall into one of four categories:
1. Underweight: BMI below the 5th percentile.
2. Normal weight: BMI at the 5th and less than the 85th percentile.
3. Overweight: BMI at the 85th and below 95th percentiles.
4. Obese: BMI at or above 95th percentile.

BMI is not a perfect measure of body fat and can be misleading in some situations.
• For example, a muscular person may have a high BMI without being overweight (because extra muscle adds to a body weight.
• In addition, BMI may be difficult to interpret during puberty when kids are experiencing periods of rapid growth.
• BMI is usually a good indicator — but is not a direct measurement — of body fat.
• If you’re worried that your child or teen may be overweight, make an appointment with your doctor.

Limitations of BMI

• While the BMI tool is fairly reliable, it is only one tool that physicians use in evaluating a person’s health status.
• It is important to take other measures like blood pressure, cardiac health, physical inactivity and abdominal girth.
• BMI does not distinguish between muscle mass and fat mass.
• A particularly athletic person whose weight is higher due to muscle may have a BMI that indicates that they are overweight. In fact, their weight is simply higher due to muscle mass. He can assess eating and activity habits of your kid and make suggestions on how to make positive changes.
• The doctor may also decide to screen for some of the medical conditions that can be related to obesity.
• Depending on the person’s BMI, age, and health, the doctor may refer you to a registered dietitian for additional advice.
• He may recommend a comprehensive weight management program.

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