How Do I Calculate My BMI Using a Tape Measure?

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One measure to determine your overall health is the Body Mass Index (BMI). By definition, your BMI is a measure of body weight related to height, and in combination with waist circumference, can be used as estimates for obesity.

Measuring BMI

  • The formula for measuring BMI is equal to: total body weight in pounds divided by your height in inches squared (your height times itself). Multiply the total by 703. Use a calibrated scale on a flat surface to record body weight. Measure height by standing against a wall; lay a ruler flat at the crown of your head, and mark where the ruler touches the wall. Use a tape measure to determine length from the floor to the mark on wall.

Using Your BMI Score

  • A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is generally considered a healthy range, while a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight, a BMI of 30 or more is considered obese, and a BMI less than 18.5 is considered underweight. The downside of a BMI measure is that is does not differentiate between muscle and fat. Therefore, individuals with more muscle mass may have a BMI score that suggests that the person is unhealthy, which may not be the case for more athletic individuals. Likewise, BMI does not accurately determine an unhealthy body fat percentage in shorter individuals.

Measuring Waist Circumferance

  • Given the limitations of a BMI score, it should not be the only consideration in your overall heath. It is wise to also account for the distribution of body fat, as well as a BMI index. Having too much fat around your waist is a general indicator for future health risks. Measuring your waist circumference is an easy way to determine if you have unhealthy fat distribution. Measure waist circumference by using a soft tape measure. Come underneath any clothing and place a finger at the top of the hip bone on one side of your body. Place tape measure just above the hip bone. Wrap tape measure around your body, and record where the tape measure meets the 0 inch mark. Generally, although not always the case, women with a waist circumference of greater than 35 inches and men with a waist circumference of 40inches or greater may have a greater chances for health problems.

What to do next?

  • If both your BMI score and waist circumferences are high, then you should consult your doctor about potential risks for future health problems and methods for managing your body composition.

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