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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Body Mass Index - BMI

Body Mass Index is also known as the Quetelet Index, after the Belgian astronomer, statistician, sociologist and mathematician Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet. It is a very easy and frequently used method to assess obesity, though it is not a direct measure of adiposity.

It is calculated by dividing the patient body mass (kg) by the square of his/her height (m).
BMI = kg/m2

Classification of weight status:

BMI (kg/m2)
Obesity Class Risk of Disease
Underweight < 18.5
Healthy weight 18.5–24.9
Overweight 25.0–29.9 Increased
Obesity 30.0–34.9 I High
Obesity 35.0–39.9 II Very high
Extreme Obesity > 40 III Extremely high


Obesity is defined as a BMI varying from 30-39.9 kg/m2. It is further classified into grades I, II and III. Extreme obesity with a BMI of greater than 40 is also called as morbid obesity. As seen on the right side of the table above, being overweight and the various classes of obesity is closely related to the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

The BMI is also used to categorize patient for appropriate therapies. The latter can range from lifestyle modifications for overweight, pharmacotherapy for obese and surgery for extremely obese patients.

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