Today, there are a multitude of programs and tips on the internet to help you lose weight, build muscle or adopt a healthy lifestyle. However, is there really an ideal weight for each of us? In this article, you will learn more about your body and I will give you all the information you need to understand the body mass index (BMI).

What is the Body Mass Index ?

The body mass index more commonly known by its abbreviation BMI is a quantity derived from a mathematical formula that was invented in the 19ᵉ century by a Belgian mathematician named Adolphe Quetelet.

This indicator commonly used by dieticians-nutritionists and other health professionals allows by a simple calculation to define the corpulence of an individual according to weight and height criteria. The BMI can be represented in the form of a graph containing various information necessary to interpret the results.

How to calculate your BMI

© Can Stock Photo / sidelnikov

What is the purpose of this calculation?

The calculation of the BMI has several interests. First, the result will allow you to estimate the perfect balance between your weight and your height. From the result obtained, you will be able to know where you stand among the different intervals included in the body mass index graph.

In a second step, all the information previously mentioned will be decisive for the implementation of improvements aimed at preventing the various risks of diseases related to obesity or to a too important thinness.

The calculation method

This index is calculated by multiplying the height (meters) by the weight (kilograms) squared and is therefore expressed in kg/m². It is important to know that you can only interpret your BMI if your age is between 18 and 65.

For example, if you weigh 70 kg for 1.82 m, your BMI will be 21.13 kg/m². However, there are many BMI calculators that will allow you to quickly and easily calculate your body mass index without having to perform any calculations.

Understanding your BMI

The World Health Organization (WHO) has defined different thresholds depending on the result obtained. Here are the different thresholds allowing you to interpret your result:

  • Result < 16.5 : Undernutrition
  • 16.5 < Result < 18.5 : Underweight
  • 18.5 < Result < 24.9 : Normal weight
  • 25 < Result < 29,9 : Overweight
  • 30 < Result < 34.9 : Moderate obesity
  • 35 < Result < 39.9 : Severe obesity
  • 40 < Result : Morbid or massive obesity

I would like to emphasize that the interpretation of BMI must take into account various external factors such as age, geographical area, medical history and that it is best to seek the advice of a health professional. Furthermore, if the result is in the range of 18.5 to 24.9, then the BMI is considered normal.

On the other hand, if it is not in this range, the possibility of developing diabetes, cardiovascular diseases or an immune deficiency is increased. According to a study conducted by INSEE (Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques in France), France is the country with the lowest average body weight for men and women. In the US, according to the CDC, adult obesity is increasing since 2020.

How often should I calculate my BMI?

It is not necessary to calculate your BMI every day or every week once your weight is stable, but you can measure it once a year as a guide. However, some people experience significant weight loss or gain in a short period of time. The BMI can then be an important indicator if you want to know more about your body shape. If you have never calculated your BMI, it is always interesting to do so to find out if your weight and height are in perfect balance.

What to do if your BMI is not in the normal range?

If your body mass index is not in the range associated with normal weight, I advise you not to panic. There is no need to start a drastic diet if you are above this threshold or to eat too much if you are below. Nevertheless, it is important to remain vigilant and as I mentioned earlier, the best solution is to ask a specialist for advice.

The latter will then be able to reassure you and direct you towards a personalized treatment in order to alleviate the problem encountered. Each situation is different, which is why it is important to obtain a follow-up adapted to your situation if necessary. In case of doubt, do not hesitate to ask your doctor for advice.

What is the ideal BMI for women and men?

There is no ideal BMI or weight for either men or women. On the other hand, it is recommended for a woman to have a BMI between 19 and 24 and a BMI between 20 and 25 for a man. It is also important to know that a person with a body mass index above or below the normal weight threshold can be in good health and does not need to change his or her habits.

For example, an athlete with a high muscle mass is likely to have a BMI above the normal weight threshold, as muscle is heavier than fat. In addition, the body mass index will not be representative for an endurance athlete or for a pregnant woman.

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