Harish Jharia

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07 August 2013

What is BMI Body Mass Index - a Barometer for monitoring figure and health of men and women

Have you ever wondered what Body Mass Index, popularly known as BMI is? There are many others who also did not understand what BMI is, for many years. Here are the answers for all your questions about BMI in this article. 

- Harish Jharia

Body Mass Index popularly known as BMI, is a measure for human body’s shape based on mass** / weight and height. That means your BMI is calculated out of your height and weight. Mass** and weight of the body are considered the same while discussing about and calculating BMI. 

In general we were told that the ideal weight of a person in Kg should be equal to the number of inches of his / her height. For example if you have height of 5 ft (60 inch), than your weight should be 6o kg. If you are heavier than 60 kg you are considered overweight and if you are lighter than 60 kg then you are underweight. This was a sort of a wild approximation emerged out of experience of health observers.

However, when I calculated BMI of a person with 5 ft height and 60 kg weight the calculator computed BMI as 25.8. According to the guiding table BMI of 25.8 is considered as the highest BMI for normal weight and of course borderline lowest for overweight category.

The Belgian scientist Adolphe Quetelet discovered BMI somewhere between 1830 and 1850 while working on social physics. BMI is defined as the individual's body mass** divided by the square of his / her height. This value is expressed in units of kg/m2. 

Metric system:         BMI = Weight in kg / (height in meter) 2

British system:        BMI = {Weight in lb / (height in inch) 2 } x 703***

There are various ready reckoners, tables and electronic / digital calculators available for calculating your BMI. A link to one such calculator is right here:

Link to BMI Calculator: 
URL: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/BMI/bmicalc.htm

The following is a guiding table that tells you about the severity of your BMI and corresponding condition of your body:

BMI                       Health Indicator

Up to 18.5         Underweight 
18.5 to 24.99     Normal weight
25 to 29.99        Overweight
30 to 39.99        Obese
40 and above    Excessive obese   

** Mass and weight of the body are considered the same while discussing about BMI.  It is so, in spite of the fact that in Physics, mass and weight are regarded as different entities. Mass is considered as the amount of matter or material of any object, whereas, the weight is referred as the force experienced by the object due to gravity. If you weigh a particular piece of object at different gravitational fields, the scale will show different weights for the same object. For example a loaf of bread will have different weight if weighed on Earth, Moon, and Mars and in space.
*** The exact conversion factor for British units is 703.06957964. Nevertheless, this level of precision is not required for BMI calculations.
Disclaimer: This article is written based on my personal observations and on the information collected from the media. My intention for publishing the same is to provide healthy reading and intellectual entertainment and not for educating the visitors. No literature or authentic books have been referred for writing the contents of this article. The visitors are advised not to refer the contents of this article for any research or testimony on professional or legal purposes. The visitors are further advised to consult relevant experts before adapting any information from this article. The author or the website are not responsible for any errors, mistakes, or omissions there in… Harish Jharia


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  2. Thanks vabna islam for your comments...