What Is a BMI Chart?

A BMI Chart (Body Mass Index Chart) is a tool used to calculate and scale a person’s weight in kilograms (kg) divided by the square of the person’s height in meters (m). Invented by Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet by deriving the BMI from a simple mathematical formula in the 1830s, this chart details the weight and height category of a person. For more than a hundred years, it’s aim is to check and estimate whether an individual falls under the category of being underweight, healthy, overweight, obese, and extremely obese.

Common Health Risk Associated with Obesity

For years, doctors and other medical experts have been measuring the body mass index of people, scaling their health based from their body weight. Over the years, being overweight and obesity is an increasing problem globally and has become a severe medical condition that causes complications in a person’s body. According to National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), obesity causes high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, diabetes, sleep disorders, cancers, and other heart diseases that are lethal when left untreated. Listed below are some common health risks that are associated with obesity.

Heart Disease: Heart diseases and stroke are some of the leading health risks caused by obesity. According to statistics, more than 859,000 Americans die every year due to cardiovascular diseases. Once a person acquires excessive cholesterol build up within the walls of his or her arteries, a limited amount of blood flow passes through the heart, brain, kidney, and other organs, which leads to their death if not treated properly at an early stage.High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure occurs when there is increased pressure against a person’s artery walls. Although it does not show any symptoms, it is detected once a person’s blood pressure is slightly above normal. Research shows that high blood pressure is commonly caused by consuming too much sodium, but this is treatable with a proper lifestyle and a balanced diet.Diabetes: Blood sugar is one of the often-underestimated components in a person’s health. Having a poor lifestyle, dietary, and exercise habits is one of the causes of diabetes. However, diabetes is treatable when identified at an early stage and is managed effectively. If left untreated, this may lead to further complications such as heart diseases, stroke, nerve damages, and even kidney damages.Cancer: Although not many studies justify that obesity causes a risk in cancer due to the differences between lean people and overweight people’s fat distribution and other factors into consideration. Still, some consistent evidence shows that cancer is associated with higher amounts of body fats, such as endometrial cancer, esophageal adenocarcinoma, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, and gallbladder cancer. Gallbladder Disease: The inflammation and irritation in the gallbladder walls are the common causes of gallbladder diseases when not appropriately treated. Caused by gallstones blocking the ducts that lead to the person’s small intestine, this causes bile to build up, which results in the inflammation of the gallbladder. Ironically, when a person reduces weight, specifically if there is a rapid and significant loss of weight occurring in the body, a person has a higher chance of building up gallstones in their gallbladder.Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis is affecting millions of people globally. Aside from old age, genetics, and joint injuries, obesity is one of the main culprits of osteoarthritis. Some of its symptoms include joint pains, stiffness, loss of flexibility, grating sensation, and swelling. This occurs when the cartilage that cushions the ends of a person’s bones gradually deteriorates. Plus, carrying extra body weight increases the risk of osteoarthritis by producing proteins that cause harmful inflammation in a person’s joints. Nevertheless, osteoarthritis can be managed by staying active and maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle.Gout: Like osteoarthritis, gout is another form of arthritis located particularly near the big toe. Some of its symptoms include intense joint pain, lingering discomfort, limited range of motion, inflammation, and redness of the affected area. Gout commonly occurs once the joints contain urate crystals, due to the overconsumption of meat, seafood, sweetened beverages, and alcoholic drinks. Breathing Problems: Breathing difficulties and shortness of breath are not only a result of stress and anxiety but also due to obesity. When a person is experiencing hypoventilation syndrome, he or she may feel sluggish and sleepy throughout the day, experience headaches, or may feel out of breath. During the night, when they sleep, they will snore loudly, may have difficulty breathing, or may even choke or gasp during their sleep.

What Are the Benefits of a BMI Chart?

BMI charts are tools that simplify and hasten the calculation and measurement of one’s obesity level based on the ratio of its height and weight without the aid of additional and expensive clinical tools and equipment to get reliable medical results. Although BMI has its limitations, it still provides numerous benefits in the field of healthcare and medicine.

How To Calculate BMI

Technology such as computers and scientific calculators were not yet available when Quetelet invented the BMI chart in the 1830s. However, even until now, the BMI chart remains a handy tool in determining the bodyweight of a person. Although Trefethen, according to Medical News Today argued, “that Quetelet’s formula might lead to confusion and misinformation,” most people still rely on the BMI chart to gather data about weight ranges and obesity differences over time. Learn more on how to calculate a person’s body mass index and read these steps below:

Step 1: Identify Whether the Person is an Adult or a Child

BMI works the same for both children and adults since it doesn’t consider age, body fat distribution, nor does it distinguish muscles between fat. However, measurement is used differently. For children, their BMI range can gradually increase through adolescents and most during adulthood since they are still growing. The BMI ranges for adults, on the other hand, almost remains the same throughout their life. 

Step 2: Indicate the Person’s Weight and Height Measurements

Determine a person’s BMI by allowing their height and weight measurement to intersect in the chart. Indicate the person’s height in meters and weight in kilograms. The ideal BMI for most adults ranges from 18.5 to 24.9, while children and young adults aging from 2 to 18 must take into account their age and gender to get their ideal BMI.

Step 3: Follow the BMI Formula 

As stated earlier, the BMI of a person follows a specific formula (divide their weight by their height to the power of two) to get accurate results. The results of the BMI shall then be used for public health statistics purposes, weight range analysis, as well as a screening tool for weight problems in the community.

Step 4: Check the Person’s Weight Classification

Lastly, classify the person’s weight range based on the results of the calculation. A person may be considered as underweight, normal weight, overweight, obese, and extremely obese. From there, medical and health experts may find ways to reduce the obesity rate of the community as well as to prevent and treat diseases and other high-risk factors that are associated with obesity.


How do I calculate my BMI?

The standard Body Mass Index uses a simple calculation based on a person’s height and weight. With the formula of BMI = kg/m², a person can check his/her weight category. However, since the formula does not distinguish muscle and fat, this may lead to inaccuracies in the results. This leads to the creation of the new BMI calculator, which has the formula of BMI = 1.3 x kg/m2.5 that may provide a closer approximation to the reality of human shape and size.

What is the ideal body weight of a person?

The ideal weight may differ from one person to another as different factors are affecting an individual’s weight, such as age, muscle-fat ratio, sex, and body shape. Nevertheless, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a person is:

  • Underweight when his/her standard BMI is less than 18.5
  • Ideal when his/her standard BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9
  • Overweight when his/her standard BMI is between 25 and 29.9
  • Obese when his/her standard BMI is more than 30

Does BMI actually matter?

Defining the ideal body weight of a person for it to be considered as healthy requires consideration of other factors. One type of measurement does not fit all, according to some research. Despite the BMI’s inability to take into account a person’s body fat, his/her body fat distribution, as well as race, gender, and age, why is BMI still widely used nowadays? It’s simply because BMI still provides a “reasonable measure” of body fat, which gives an individual a rough estimate of whether he or she is healthy or not.

How can you tell if you are fat?

Besides using the BMI chart to calculate an individual’s weight, there are other ways to identify whether a person is obese or overweight. These includes:

  • Waist measurement – a person is considered overweight once the waist circumference, for women, measures more than 35 inches, while man measures more than 40 inches.
  • Snoring – a person is considered fat when it experiences shallow and short pauses in breathing during sleep, due to the fat accumulation around its neck area.
  • Frequent heartburn – a person is overweight when it experiences acid reflux due to its slight changes in its body weight.
  • Achy joints – osteoarthritis is not limited to older people. The extra weight carried by a person’s joints adds pressure to the area, which causes it to ache. 
  • Chronic fatigue – overweight adds extra pressure on a person’s organs, which leads to fatigue and shortness of breath.

Are there any inaccuracies with BMI?

BMI does not take into account whether a person’s weight is carried as muscle or fat. Muscle builders and athletes who exercise more often and have a higher muscle mass will be considered as “overweight” compared to a regular person who does not exercise at all. Furthermore, a pregnant woman’s body composition changes during pregnancy and lactation, making BMI inappropriate. Lastly, the BMI chart may lead to inaccuracies when determining children’s and elderly’s weight since children have yet to complete their growth while the elderly tend to lose their muscle mass as time passes by.

Obesity is a health hazard that remains to be the main problem in society nowadays. Millions of people are experiencing obesity, and their age is slowly reaching as early as childhood and adolescence. What’s worse, obesity is closely associated with various heart diseases and other health risk factors. Over the years, BMI remains to be one of the most reliable tools used by doctors and other health experts to measure and understand the overall weight and health of both men and women. Lastly, regardless of the BMI’s limitations, it is beneficial in gathering public health statistics, weight range analysis, and as a screening tool for other weight problems.