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What is a healthy body mass index (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
A healthy Body Mass Index reading is a BMI of between 18.5 to 24.9.

BMI <18.5 is considered underweight.
BMI 25.0 to 29.9 = overweight.
BMI > 30.0 = obese.
BMI > 35.0 = morbidly.
Eric Beard
Sports Medicine

A healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) reading is 18.5--24.9. The official scores are as follows;

Below 18.5 = Underweight

18.5 – 24.9 = Normal

25.0 – 29.9 = Overweight

30.0 and Above = Obese

These sample scores courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and correlate height, weight and BMI. The following example is for an individual who is 5' 9".

124 lbs or less with a BMI of 18.5 or below = Underweight

125 lbs to 168 lbs with a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 = Normal

169 lbs to 202 lbs with a BMI of 25.0 to 29.9 = Overweight

203 lbs or more with a BMI of 30 or higher = Obese

BMI values are classified as follows:
o < 18.5 = underweight
o 18.5 - 24.9 = normal
o 25 - 30 = overweight
o 30 - 35 = moderate obesity
o >35 = severe obesity
A body mass index (BMI) between 18 and 24 is considered healthy. BMI is not perfect -- for example, a pro athlete with very high muscle mass may have a high BMI without being overweight -- but for the general population, it is a good guideline.

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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.