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Is Body Mass Index (BMI) a good predictor of health?

Dr. Robin Miller, MD
Internal Medicine

Much has been made of the importance of Body Mass Index, or BMI, for predicting the risk of heart disease and diabetes. In fact, says integrative medicine specialist Dr. Robin Miller, you can learn more about potential health risks by using a simple tape measure.


Body mass index (BMI) uses the ratio of your height and weight to assess overweight and risk for related diseases. Studies have shown that this ratio is a better predictor of body fat than any other measure that uses height and weight only. But it's not perfect and shouldn't be the only measure considered. For example, people with high muscle density (such as athletes) may be perfectly healthy at a higher BMI.
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 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.

BMI Categories:

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

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.