Body Mass Index or simply known as BMI is a number that is derived by calculating the weight of a person versus the fat, which gives an approximation on the percentage of weight derived from the body’s fat as opposed to the muscles, the bones or any organs. The higher a person’s BMI is, in general the more fat he has in his body.
BMI is calculated as a person’s total body weight over the square of his body’s height and the resulting unit of measure is kg/m (squared). There are seven categories under the commonly used BMI index and they are:
Severely underweight – BMI of less than 16
Underweight – BMI of 16 – 18.5
Normal – BMI of 18.5 to 25
Overweight – BMI of 25-30
Mildly obese (or obese class 1) – BMI of 30-35
Severely obese (or obese class 2) – BMI of 35-40
Morbidly obese (or obese class 3) – BMI of over 40
According to statistics, Americans are on the fast track when it comes to the number of overweight and obese people. More than 58 million Americans are considered overweight, while over 40 million is considered obese, and 3 million Americans are considered morbidly obese. Obesity is now considered an epidemic in the United States, and the problem is caused by a number of factors, but these are the most prevalent: poor diet and very little or no exercise at all.
More alarming are the effects of obesity on the body. Between the age of 30 and 40 years old, there has been a sharp rise in obesity related type 2 diabetes compared to 1990—more than 78%. Of all diabetes cases, 85% are caused by being overweight or obese. Diabetes is not the only problem overweight people are in danger of contracting: heart disease and strokes are more prevalent in people with who are overweight and obese, while 45% of all breast and colon cancers are related to high BMI. Moreover, over a quarter of all people who are overweight or considered obese suffer from high blood pressure or hypertension which is a big risk factor for heart disease, diabetes and its complications.
People who have a high BMI are encouraged to lower the number by making the necessary lifestyle changes: adopting a healthier diet, regular exercise or leading a more active lifestyle.