How to Find your Ideal Weight According to the BMI Chart

What is BMI Chart and What It Can Tell You
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If you want a very quick way to tell if you have a healthy weight, you can do it by calculating your body mass index (BMI). BMI may not be a term that’s on everyone’s lips, but it’s important for your health to understand what it is and to know your number.

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What is BMI?

BMI stands for “body mass index,” and is a number calculated using your height and weight to determine where your body mass stands. If the number is above a certain value, you are overweight, while if the number is below a certain value, you are underweight. There is also a “golden area” in between those values where a BMI number indicates a healthy weight.

Here are the formulas to calculate BMI:

BMI

Interpreting your BMI

Once you have your BMI number—how do you interpret it?

First things first: look at the chart below. Find your height in the first column, and then look over at the box whose number corresponds with your weight.

You will see a number and a color in this box. The number is your actual body mass index, and the color of the box indicates whether your BMI fits into an underweight, healthy, or overweight range.

A BMI value of less than 18.5 is considered underweight. 18.5 to 24 is considered healthy, while a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight. Obesity is a value of 30 or more, with morbid obesity being a value of 40 or higher.

BMI chart

Is This BMI Chart Suitable for All Adults?

This chart is suitable for most people aged 18 and over. But, it may not be suitable if you have a very muscular build.

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This is because having lots of muscle may put you in the overweight or obese categories, even if you have little body fat.

For example, professional rugby players can fall into the “obese” category despite having very little body fat. However, this will not apply to most people.

In addition to BMI, your waist circumference can provide information about your health. You can learn more about it in my article about why body shape matters.

What Can BMI Tell You?

Because elevated BMI and a BMI that is too low are both associated with health problems, BMI can give you a general idea of where your health stands with regard to weight-related issues.

Being too thin can put you at risk for nutritional deficiencies, muscle loss, and other problems.

On the other end of the spectrum, being obese is associated with an increased risk of many serious and even deadly health conditions. Some of these include:

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What Can’t BMI Tell You?

Although a person with a very high or very low BMI may be at more obvious risk of developing specific health problems, people in the middle of the spectrum are often left scratching their heads.

Someone with a BMI that indicates being slightly overweight may actually be healthier and have a lower body fat percentage than someone with a lower BMI number in the “healthy” range. BMI cannot tell you your body fat percentage. For example and as previously mentioned, some people, such as heavily muscled athletes, may have a high BMI even though they don’t have a high percentage of body fat. You can find your ideal body fat percentage in my other article which includes body fat percentage chart and instructions on how to measure body fat.

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BMI does not take into account age, gender, or muscle mass. Nor does it distinguish between lean body mass and fat mass. In others, such as elderly people, BMI may appear normal even though muscle has been lost with aging.

BMI also cannot tell you whether you have visceral fat, which can increase your risk of getting a heart attack.

BMI also does not take into account where your fat is located. Some people gain weight in their abdominal regions (the so-called ”apple” body shape). Others are ”pear-shaped,” with excess weight around the hips and buttocks. People with apple shapes are at higher risk for health problems associated with being overweight.

BMI cannot account for race-based or sex-based differences among ideal, healthy body size and weight.

Additionally, someone who was formerly obese but lost a lot of weight quickly may now have a BMI in the “healthy” range, but could still be at risk for developing obesity-related illnesses due to a lifetime of being overweight.

BMI – the bottom line:

BMI can give you a ballpark idea of how healthy your weight is, but it can’t see into your future. So, while it’s important to know where your body mass stands, it is just one measure that shows a limited amount of information about your health. BMI should be used as a general guide to weight health rather than taken as all-seeing health gospel.

If you are overweight and wants to lose weight, read these related articles:
1. Body Fat Percentage Chart and How to Measure It
2. How much walking you need to lose weight
3. 12 simple tweaks for weight loss and great health
4. Woman loses 88 pounds in one year by making 3 simple changes

Resources:
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6 Responses to How to Find your Ideal Weight According to the BMI Chart

  1. ck says:

    Shouldn’t it also take into account your body frame? A petite 5’5 female with small bone structure should definitely weigh less than one with athletic build.

  2. Wendi says:

    This is crazy I am underweight at 118 but obese at 130… I used to weigh 104-108 and it was definitely underweight to everyone. I gained weight and weighed 118 and people said I was to skinny too and needed another 10 lbs at least but I was very fit. Now I weigh 118 without being fit and people think I am a little chubby because I have been to sick to exercise enough. My doctors have all said I should weigh 122-135 but the chart is so messed up saying 120-129 is healthy than 1 lb more and streaight to obese. I just looked up other chart and they said I can weigh up to 135. I think this chart is going to issue some horrible image problems and I have no idea how you came up with the numbers without bone structure sizes and all the other charts online being completely different and this being only for everyone to be super skinny.

    • Jenny Hills says:

      1 lb more indeed can move you to another category. If you look at the official BMI categories in NIH (see here), then BMI of 24.9 is normal weight whereas BMI of 25 is overweight. It doesn’t mean that with 0.1 lb weight gain you suddenly become overweight. It means that you are at the higher end of having normal weight and need to keep an eye to maintain a healthy weight. You can suggest different naming for the various categories so they don’t jump from being healthy to overweight, but this is the way it goes in all BMI charts. I’ve also elaborated specifically about what the BMI cannot tell you and the bottom line of the article about its limitation, so please read it again.

  3. Amanda says:

    This is a flawed chart.
    Please do not go by this alone.
    There are many other factors to work into the equation.

  4. Tobias says:

    All BMI charts are nonsense! There are so many variables to the human body due to many factors, that there is absolutely NO chart that can tell you what you should be!

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