Body Mass Index (BMI)

Why is it important?

CarolinaFireJournal - Karen Leatherman
Karen Leatherman
04/14/2020 -

The benefits of maintaining a healthy weight go far beyond improved energy and smaller clothing sizes. By losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight, you are also likely to enjoy these quality-of-life factors too.


BMI is an indicator of the amount of body fat for most people. It is used as a screening tool to identify whether an adult is at a healthy weight.
  • Fewer joint and muscle pains
  • More energy and greater ability to join in desired activities
  • Better regulation of bodily fluids and blood pressure
  • Reduced burden on your heart and circulatory system
  • Better sleep patterns
  • Reductions in blood triglycerides, blood glucose, and risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Reduced risk for heart disease and certain cancers

BMI is an indicator of the amount of body fat for most people. It is used as a screening tool to identify whether an adult is at a healthy weight. Find your BMI and what it means with the NIH BMI Calculator located at

BMI Stands for Body Mass Index

This is a numerical value of your weight in relation to your height. A BMI between 18.5 and 25 kg/m2 indicates a normal weight. A BMI of less than 18.5 kg/m2 is considered underweight. A BMI between 25 kg/m2 and 29.9 kg/m2 is considered overweight. A BMI of 30 kg/m2 or higher is considered obese. A BMI of 40 or more is considered Extreme Obesity.

Excess Weight Increases
the Heart’s Work

It also raises blood pressure and blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and lowers HDL (good) cholesterol levels. It can make diabetes more likely to develop, too. Lifestyle changes that help you maintain a three to five percent weight loss are likely to result in clinically meaningful improvements in blood glucose, triglycerides, and risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Greater weight loss can even help reduce blood pressure and improve blood cholesterol. Obesity is now recognized as a major, independent risk factor for heart disease.

It is very common when we are doing physicals for persons that have a high BMI that they have some or all of the risk factors listed above. These are related to lifestyle.

What is the waist circumference and why is that important when looking at BMI?

Sometimes I will hear that my BMI is high because I am short and have a lot of muscle. This is true in a small percentage. The way to tell for sure, is to measure the waist circumference. Waist circumference is the distance around your abdomen — at your belly button. Your goal for waist circumference is less than 40 inches if you’re a man and less than 35 inches if you’re a woman.

For more information and tips on losing weight, go to American Heart Association at

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