BMI, or Body Mass Index, is a great way to assess health risks. Various healthcare settings utilize this formula and measurement method to not only determine if your health may be at risk, but also to establish target weight levels. BMI provides a ratio based on the relationship between height and body weight.

Do you know your BMI?

Your BMI can be measured through a formula or by looking at a table with predetermined ratios established based on your weight and height. The table was established by using the formula. To find your BMI on a chart, you would only need to find your height in the left column and match it up to your closest weight across the row. From there, your BMI would be at the top of the column. If you don’t have access to a BMI chart, use this formula to determine your BMI:

BMI = Weight (lb) x 703/Height (inches)/Height (inches)

This formula may look strange, for it has been converted from kilograms (kg) and meters (m) to pounds (lb) and inches. This will save you a step. Otherwise, you would have to convert pounds to kilograms by dividing by 2.2, as well as convert inches to meters by multiplying the inches by 0.0254. Luckily, you don’t have to worry about that!

Here’s an example:

Say you weigh 180 and stand 5’9”.

Weight = 185

Height = 69 inches

Using the standard formula:

BMI = 185 lb x 703/69 inches/69 inches = 27.4

Your BMI would be 27, but now that you know your BMI what does that mean? Whether you measure your BMI from a chart or use the formula, once you know your BMI, you will have a much better idea of your risks for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension (to name a few). The higher the BMI, the higher your health risks.

Use these BMI numbers as a reference to determine your potential risks:

< 18.5 = Underweight

18.5 – 24.9 = Normal Weight

25.0 – 29.9 = Overweight

30.0 – 34.9 = Grade I Obesity

35.0 – 39.9 = Grade II Obesity

> 40 = Grade III Obesity

Knowing your BMI is a fast and easy way to assess any potential health risks. Keep in mind that some individuals may be considered “overweight” when they are actually within normal ranges. This would happen with shorter, very muscular individuals whose weight-to-height ratio measures in dangerous range when in fact they are in good health. The same would be true of older adults with little muscle tone and extra body fat, but obvious health concerns. They may score in the normal range, but that would be misleading.

You now have an easy way to know your BMI. Use it and make any necessary lifestyle changes to ensure you are living a healthy and happy life.