The BMI (“Body Mass Index”) is a widely used, but sometimes misunderstood measurement of what a healthy body weight is. Here is an explanation, a BMI calculator and how to use the result correctly.
Especially in bodybuilding circles I have often encountered the notion that “BMI is useless”, but that is an incorrect generalization. For over- and underweight persons it provides a fair estimate of their body weight being healthy or not:
To try it out yourself, simply key your stats into this BMI calculator:
BMI Shortcomings Revisited
As hinted in the video, for very tall, very short or very musular people the BMI formula doesn’t work very well. It is designed to be broad and apply to the most common circumstances, much like S, M or L cloth sizes are designed to cover (literally) the majority of people. If you are a muscular person, your are better advised to use a body fat caliper and if you are very tall or short, measuring your waist circumference may give you a better assessment.
But, as said, if the BMI puts you in the “obese” category and you can’t see your feet when you stand up, it honestly is pointing you in the right direction. The same goes for the underweight end of things: if the BMI tells you your body weight is too low and your hip bones stick out, you likely weigh less than is healthy.
Picture courtesy of Dani Lurie.