Can I have a high BMI but a healthy body composition?

Yes.  There are some individuals, particularly those who perform a lot of strength training, that are very muscular.  This would, of course, cause them to weigh more.  By weighing more, the BMI calculation might classify them as overweight or obese.  However, having large amounts of muscle mass relative to fat mass is healthy and fine.

Technically, yes you can. But for most Americans (and I mean almost all of us), I doubt it. To have a high BMI but a "healthy body composition," you must have lower body fat and a higher lean mass (muscle). To attain that body type, you must be training for it - and I mean training a lot and training hard - and living a specific lifestyle.

Most of us do not fall into that camp. So, chances are, if you have a high BMI, you are not healthy and need to lose some weight.

Marjorie Nolan Cohn
Nutrition & Dietetics

BMI stands for body mass index and is a measure of height to weight. It doesn’t take into consideration body composition, age or gender. Therefore is not the most reliable measure for obesity. It is however, and good rule of thumb tool when trying to determine your health risks associated with weight.

A very fit person with higher amount of muscle mass may have a high BMI even though they are healthy a fit.

BMI Categories:

  • Underweight = <18.5
  • Normal weight = 18.5–24.9
  • Overweight = 25–29.9
  • Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater

 1) To calculate your BMI measure your weight in pounds and height in inches. Then multiply the answer by 703

  • [Weight / (height x height)] x 703 = BMI

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.