MPA | Pharmacy News

by Lara Alexander, CPhT, RMC, MSPT immediate past president

Body Mass Index (BMI) is an estimate of body fat and is a useful measure of your risk for diseases that can occur with overweight and obesity. Per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a healthy weight is defined as the appropriate body weight in relation to your height.  This ratio of weight to height is known as your BMI. BMI can be used for most men and women, but it is not an absolute. It can overestimate the body fat in those with a muscular build (athletes), and it can give an underestimate in body fat for those who have lost muscle (elderly, sick, etc.). Generally speaking, a high BMI means that you have too much body weight or fat in relation to your height. The higher the BMI, the higher the risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. BMI for ages 2-20 is determined by using a BMI table that compares weight and height along with growth charts. The growth chart uses the BMI, age and gender to produce a BMI percentile. For more information about BMI percentile and growth charges for children, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web site. For adults over 20 years of age, you can manually calculate your BMI using the following formula:

BMI = (weight in pounds x 703)
                height in inches2

  1. Multiply your weight, in pounds, by 703 (example: if you are 150 pounds, 150 x 703 = 105,450).
  2. Convert your height into inches (multiply the number of feet by 12 and add it to the number of extra inches; example: if you are 5 feet 4 inches tall, [5 x 12] + 4 = 64”.  Now, multiply your answer by itself.  64 x 64 = 4,096)
  3. Divide the first figure by the second (example: 105,450/4,096 = 25.74. The BMI would be 25.74).

The weight status categories below in Table 1 are those currently used by the CDC. They are suitable for adults who have stopped growing.

Table 1. BMI Weight Categories

BMI Weight Status
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5-24.9 Normal
25-29.9 Overweight
30.0 + Obese

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