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Body Mass Index is a simple calculation that uses height and weight.

BMI = Weight (in kg) / [Height (in meters)]2

People with low (<19) and high (>30) BMIs may be at risk for developing health problems. For example people with a low BMI are at risk for osteoporosis and/or an eating disorder. Those with high BMIs may be at risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

*Although BMI can be helpful for assessing the health risks of populations, it is not always accurate for evaluating individual people. For example:

  • An athlete with a lot of muscle may have a BMI above 30 even though he/she is perfectly healthy.
  • On the other hand, someone who smokes, is inactive, and eats poorly cannot be considered "healthy," even if their BMI happens to be within the normal range.

There is a growing body of research that suggests that lifestyle choices are more important in determining health risks than height and weight are.

Consult with a health care provider for interpretation of your BMI and evaluation of your individual health risks.