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Do You Know Your Body Mass Index Number?

Achieving a normal body mass index can help you stay healthier and avoid disease

by Rosanne Rust  |  2485 views  |  3 comments  |        Rate this now! 

Life is busy. Your life is busier. Moms have a million things going on in their heads at any given moment. Did you see the movie “What Every Woman Wants”? I love the scenes of women working, jogging, or walking along, talking to themselves, in their heads. Thinking about everything and everybody. It’s what we do. We keep our schedules, we keep our children’s schedules, and we may keep our spouses schedules. No wonder our heads spin sometimes.

So who has time to think about that weight that slowly creeps on? Some women do not even own scales (denial is a strong emotion) and if I bring up the nearly fatal question: What do you weigh? It’s unlikely that I will get an accurate answer (unless I’m standing next to you with a scale. Anecdote: men typically overestimate their height, while women underestimate their weight).

Whether you want to think about it or not, you should at least be aware of your body weight, and particularly your body mass. Body mass index (BMI) estimates fatness and overall weight related to height. It is calculated by taking weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. A BMI of 18.5-24.9 is normal, less than18.5 is underweight, and 25-29.9 is overweight, with 30 and over indicating obesity.

BMI = weight (kg)/[height2 (in meters)] or

BMI = weight (lbs)/[height2 (in inches)] x 703

Example: Weight = 150 lbs, Height = 5’5” (65")

Calculation: [150 ÷ (65)2] x 703 = 24.96

You may be tired of hearing about it, but with healthcare reform being placed back onto the political table, the fact thirty-two percent of Americans are estimated as being obese should concern you a little. This is indicated by a BMI of greater than 30. This does not include the additional number of overweight individuals (which could easily bring the statistic up to half or more of our citizens). Americans also do not get enough activity with an estimated twenty-two percent of Americans never engaging in any physical activity. I doubt a universal healthcare program will mandate that a person be physically active to be eligible; even though it is scientifically proven that physical activity helps people lose weight and maintain the weight loss, lowers blood pressure, lowers blood cholesterol, helps control blood sugar levels. Do you get the picture? Being overweight or obese causes all sorts of preventable health ailments.

Preventing or managing obesity however is a personal responsibility that a national healthcare program won’t fix. No program will work unless the individual is ready for change. Even with new studies showing that employees who are paid to lose weight are more successful, my bet is that unless they are paid forever, the long-term success rate won’t be good. They have to be motivated internally.

About the Author

Rust, is a registered dietitian who provides online weight loss counseling as a licensed provider for Real Living Nutrition Services®. Go to for more information.

Read more by Rosanne Rust

3 comments so far...

  • Hey there MaryP! The formula should work- math!:)
    You take your weight (lbs) and divide it by your height squared (inches) then multiply by 703!
    the metric formula is weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared.
    You are so right about activity! Americans simply have a "park by the door" mentality.
    Move it or lose it!:)

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Rosanne Rust on 16th October 2007

  • ahh yes, my BMI is far too high - and i have been up and down my whole life. Right now i am in an up period, but heading back down LOL! i was freaking out about the whole yo-yo thing (though i dont crash diet, just eat better/exercise and it magically falls off - amazing) and then i read that yo-yoing really has no long term affect as long as you eat right/exercise. shocking, really. if only it were as easy to DO as it is to say/write!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Kate on 1st October 2007

  • I read this week that the average American walks 74 (76?) miles per year. Per YEAR. That works out to less that 400 yards per day.

    These people are doing no more walking than it takes to get from their front door to their cars, and back again. They must be driving to the corner store, driving to pick their kids up from school (4 blocks away), driving to do every single thing.

    Imagine the good that could come if we made a rule that we never used our cars for a trip of less than half a mile? Half a mile is a 10 or 15 minute walk - if you're in any kind of shape at all. Not so much.(Never mind all the good it would do for air quality and your household budget!)

    (That formula isn't working for me. I'm getting numbers in the hundreds! I must be doing something wrong!)

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by MaryP on 28th September 2007