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Body mass index, BMI:

Body mass index, BMI, is only an indirect measurement of body fat. The BMI measures what percent of a body's weight is composed of fat. Physical measurements such as waist and hip circumferences and skin fold thickness in the back of the elbow are also used.

The BMI happens to be the most commonly used measurement in epidemiologic studies and for middle-aged men and women. It correlates with over 90% with fat mass densitometry. The BMI is also called the Quetelet index and is calculated by the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters. While it does not distinguish fat mass from lean or muscle mass, it is a very useful approximation to what one should weigh depending on height.

Definition of overweight or obesity:

While BMI is not the perfect measurement for assessing increased body fat, it is the most easily obtained measurement that has a high correlation with percent of body fat so most of the standards are set using BMI. Even though there can be some increased health risks within the upper limits of the normal range, various groups such as the World Health Organization, the American Institute of Nutrition and the International Obesity task force, among others have given some guidelines.

Weight Category Definitions   Classification BMI
Underweight   less than 18.5
Normal   18.5 - 24.9
Overweight   25.0 - 29.9
Obese   30.0 - 39.9
Extreme Obesity   40.0 and greater



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