Balance your diet, balance your health Balance your diet, balance your health

What is My BMI And Why Does It Matter?

The terms “overweight” and “obesity” are used frequently, but how are those terms defined? And how can you tell if you fall into either category? Body mass index (BMI) is a screening tool to inform a person of their weight category. It’s a measurement based upon your weight in relation to your height, and it’s calculated the same way for all adult men and women. The formula is your weight (in kilograms) divided by height (in meters, squared). Calculating your BMI is made easy online as offered by the CDC BMI calculator.


BMI categories include:

  • Below 18.5 -- Underweight
  • 18.5 - 24.9 -- Healthy weight
  • 25.0 - 29.9 -- Overweight
  • 30.0 and above -- Obesity


An overweight BMI or obese BMI is one indicator of excess body fat, but a person’s BMI alone cannot determine the amount of excess body fat or the overall health of any individual. It’s simply one simple calculation that can help your doctor or dietitian assess your overall well-being, in addition to evaluating your diet, lifestyle, family history and other health factors.


Health Risks Associated with an Overweight or Obese BMI

According to a national U.S. survey, more than 2 in 3 adults were considered to have an overweight or obese BMI. Medical experts recommend that people who have obesity should lose weight because of their increased risk for disease and health conditions including the following:

  • Hypertension
  • Types 2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sleep apnea
  • Mental health/quality of life


How to Take Action Towards Better Health

Modest weight loss when you are in an overweight BMI or obese BMI category can have a big impact!

Research shows that a weight loss of just 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight can improve blood sugars, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. While that decrease in weight may still keep you in the overweight BMI or obese BMI category, this weight loss can still help reduce your risk of obesity-related medical conditions.


It may feel overwhelming to get to your goal, but a series of small wins can lead to significant benefits. Consider these five action steps you can take to lower your BMI:

  • Make a commitment -- Deciding to lose weight and change your lifestyle is the first step. Make a contract with yourself that documents the reasons you want to lose weight. This serves as a written reminder to come back to throughout your journey.
  • Know where you are -- Meet with a doctor to understand your current health conditions, keep a food diary and examine your current lifestyle to assess areas that can be modified for better health.
  • Set realistic goals -- Start with short term goals that lead to a long-term goal. Make the goals specific, realistic, and forgiving. Instead of saying “exercise more” - set clear, measurable goals, like “walk 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week for 1 month.” Small steps lead to big wins!
  • Identify your areas of support -- Surround yourself with a network that supports your lifestyle changes. Consider weight loss groups or visiting a registered dietitian nutritionist to provide practical advice and tips that can work for you.
  • Schedule “check ins” to measure your progress -- Revisit your goals to see if you’re meeting them or if they need to be readjusted. Reward yourself for the wins!


Weight loss is truly a journey, not a destination. With the right tools, you will set yourself up to win along the road to better health.