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BMI Numbers: What Do They Mean?


Dr. Allison Ferris, a primary care physician at Drexel Medicine, explains what an ideal body mass index is and what it can tell you about your overall health.


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So when you go to the doctor's office now, you are probably going to get told what your BMI is. It doesn't matter which doctor's office you're at, it's a marker of general health. BMI stand for body mass index. It's essentially a ratio of height and weight. Unfortunately, body mass index doesn't always take into account fat versus lean muscle mass. So body mass index, we know that BMI's between 18 and 25 are considered healthy and normal. 26 to 29.9 is overweight. Over 30, you would begin to fall into the obese category. Body mass index is generally a marker of health in the sense that the thinner you are and the closer to an ideal body mass index, generally speaking the healthier you are. The higher the weight, the higher that BMI, the greater risk of things like high blood pressure developing, diabetes developing, risk of heart disease goes up, risk of a stroke goes up, risk of some cancers goes up. So body mass index is something that you do need to know and keep an eye on, but there are some shortcomings. So if you have a lot of muscle mass, people who have, especially guys who have large shoulders, a lot of leg muscle, their BMI can actually be high even though their waist is small and they don't have a high body fat composition. But for most people, BMI is a pretty accurate marker of general health.

The information on these pages is provided for general information only and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment, or as a substitute for consultation with a physician or health care professional. If you have specific questions or concerns about your health, you should consult your health care professional.

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