BMI or Body Mass Index is a globally acknowledged, scientific method of measuring obesity. Recommended by the WHO (World Health Organization), it is a simple index of weight- for- height, which is used to classify underweight, normal, overweight and obese adults along with their level of associated health risks. It is calculated by dividing the weight in kilograms by the square of an individual's height in meters.
The modern term "body mass index" (BMI) for the ratio of weight to squared height owes its popularity to a paper published in the July 1972 edition of the Journal of Chronic Diseases by Ancel Keys. This found the BMI to be the best proxy for body fat percentage among ratios of weight and height. The interest in an index that measures body fat came with increasing obesity in prosperous Western societies.
BMI was explicitly cited by Keys as appropriate for population studies and inappropriate for individual evaluation. Nevertheless, due to its simplicity, it has come to be widely used for preliminary diagnosis. Additional metrics, such as waist circumference, can be more useful
The classification of Underweight, Normal Overweight and Obese according to BMI is given in the table below (Ref: Misra A. Body Composition and the metabolic syndrome in Asian Indians: A saga of multiple adversities. Natl Medical J India 2003;16(1):3-7 )
Classification Of Adults According To BMI
|Classification||Popular Description||BMI (Kg/m2)||Risk Of Co-Morbidities|
|Underweight||Thin||<18.5||Low (but risk of other clinical problems increased)|
|Normal range||Normal||18.5 - 24.9||Average|
|Pre-obese||Overweight||25 - 29.9||Increased|
|Obese Class I||Obese||30.0 - 34.9||Moderate|
|Obese Class II||Obese||35.0 - 39.9||Severe|
|Obese Class III||Morbidly Obese||>=40.0||Very severe|
Though globally a BMI of 25 is accepted as normal, for Asian Indians this value is considered higher because at lower BMI they tend to accumulate higher fat percentage which is the actual cause behind developing various other medical disorders and diseases.
A normal BMI should ideally fall between 18.5 and 22.9. A BMI between 23 and 29.9 is considered overweight and anything above that qualifies as obese.
While an individual may have a normal BMI, he/she may still be at a risk of developing health problems due to excessive abdominal fat deposits around the waist. This condition is quite common amongst Indian citizens. A waist circumference of greater than 80 cm (31.5 inches)in women and greater than 90 cm (35.4 inches)in men indicates a higher waist circumference than the normal limit. Waist Circumference serves as a crucial measure of abdominal or central obesity, which is associated with an increased risk of developing Type II Diabetes, Dyslipidemia, Hypertension and Cardiovascular diseases.
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