Talk of healthy living, eating the right kind of food and weight loss often includes a term which understanding how it fits alongside these other elements is as important as knowing your carbohydrates from your proteins. The term is BMI and is an indicator used across both the medical world and the fitness industry as a way of measuring whether a person is at a healthy weight.

If you’ve heard of BMI but you don’t know what it means or why it’s important for you, here’s an explanation.

What is BMI?

BMI means Body Mass Index. It’s a measurement of the amount of fat and is calculated using weight and height. BMI is used for adults over the age of 20 to give an indication of whether they are at a healthy weight or are under or overweight.

BMI is used as an indicator to look at overall population weight trends as well as monitoring the situation of an individual. It’s a well-used and respected way across the medical profession of determining whether someone may have weight issues. Designed over 150 years ago, it’s a quick way of adding information to whether you need to look at making changes in what you eat and drink.

BMI is divided into a number of categories where the calculated result is then correlated against. The categories are:

  • Underweight
  • Normal weight
  • Overweight
  • Obesity
  • Extreme obesity

Why is BMI important?

Your BMI can show if it would be beneficial to gain or lose weight. The measurement is used as an indicator as to whether there could be a raised likelihood of having certain medical conditions. These include heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

What are the different ranges I need to know about?

When you have your BMI result, you can use a chart to check where you are and in which category.

Alternatively, here are the categories and the BMI ranges in each one:

Underweight: BMI of 18.5
Normal: BMI of 18.5-24.9
Overweight: BMI of 25-29.9
Obesity: BMI of 30-39.9
Extreme obesity: BMI or 40 or over

How do I calculate my BMI?

To calculate your BMI, you’ll need to know your height and weight in metres and kilos (kg) respectively.

Divide your weight in kg by your height in metres squared. The result will give you a number which can be compared to a scale you can find online or by asking your GP surgery.

If maths isn’t your thing, there are many online calculators you can input your information into for an instant result.

If it’s too high or low, what should I do next?

If your result shows you’re under or overweight or in the obese categories, talk to your GP about your options. There are lots of ways to change the way you eat and with support you can start to make a shift towards having a BMI in the normal weight category. No matter which category you fall into, making small changes in your food choices will always add to you creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and can help ward off the onset of often avoidable diseases.