Body Mass Index (BMI) – an overview

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Body mass index or BMI is a value derived from the weight and height of a person. By examining the results of a BMI measurement, we can determine whether a person is at the right weight for their height.

BMI can reveal whether the person is underweight, overweight, or obese. If a person’s BMI is outside of the healthy range, their health risks may increase greatly.

Understanding the results

Based on BMI ranges, the following illustration shows typical weight status categories for adults.

  • BMI of less than 18.5 –When your BMI is less than 18.5, it means you are underweight and should consider gaining weight. Talk to your doctor or a dietitian for advice.
  • BMI of 18.59 –The BMI range of 18.5-24.9 indicates that you are at a healthy weight for your height. Maintaining a healthy weight will lower your risk of serious health issues.
  • BMI of 259 –With a BMI of 25-29.9, you are considered slightly overweight. A doctor or a dietitian can advise you on how to reduce your weight.
  • BMI of over 30 –If you have a BMI over 30, you are considered obese. You may be at risk of health problems if you do not lose weight. Consult your doctor or dietitian for advice.

Health risks of being overweight / underweight

The doctor will provide appropriate recommendations if a person is carrying too much weight, or too little weight. However, you should also know the equal health risks as well. Being overweight can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular problems. Whereas, being underweight can result in malnutrition, osteoporosis, and anemia.

BMI isn’t a direct measurement of body fat, and it’s not based on age, gender, race, or ethnicity in adults. However, it uses a standard classification of weight status that helps doctors track weight status across populations and identify potential problems.

Co-morbid conditions of obesity

Any disorder that tends to develop in conjunction with another condition is called a comorbid condition. Obesity has a particularly high rate of comorbid conditions due to its drastic effects on the body.

Obesity can negatively affect every organ system in your body. The longer you are overweight, and the higher your body fat percentage is, the more likely you are to develop comorbid conditions.

Some of the most common obesity-related diseases include:

BMI in children and teens

When calculating BMI in children and adolescents, gender and age are taken into consideration. This is because, girls and boys develop differently and their body fat levels vary as they grow.

A doctor calculates a child’s BMI by measuring height and weight. Then they place the BMI number and person’s age on a sex-specific BMI-for-age chart to determine whether the child is within a healthy range.

Benefits of a healthy weight

Having a healthy weight should be a priority for each and every individual. Besides reducing the risk of developing serious health conditions, maintaining a healthy weight offers various benefits, such as:

  • Fewer body pains
  • Increased energy
  • Improved sleep patterns
  • Ability to take part in more activities
  • Improved regulation of blood pressure
  • Reduced risk of the heart problems

Other measures of a healthy body

BMI is a useful measure, but it cannot distinguish between muscle and fat. An athlete with a lot of muscle may have a higher BMI than someone who is not very active. Still, this does not necessarily indicate that the athlete is obese or overweight.

However, there are additional measures to indicate body fat such as: waist-hip ratio, waist-to-height ratio, and body composition.

In conjunction with BMI, these additional measurements can help determine whether an individual’s weight carries health risks. They focus on the amount of fat and it’s distribution all over the body.

BMI – not the best measure of health

The more body fat you carry, the higher your health risk; however, BMI cannot differentiate body fat from muscle mass. Therefore, there are some exceptions to the BMI guidelines:

  1. Muscles – People with lots of muscle mass and a high BMI will have a high BMI, but they are not overweight.
  2. Physical disabilities -The BMI may be lower in people with disabilities who are unable to walk. This does not necessarily mean they are underweight. In these situations, it is important to consult a dietitian who can provide helpful advice.
  3. Height -BMI is not totally dependent on height and overestimates obesity among short people and underestimates it among tall people. As a result, BMI calculation is not suitable for adults who are less than 150cm or more than
  4. People of different ethnic groups -The proportion of body fat among Asians and Indians is higher at any given BMI than in people of European descent, so the definition for overweight and obesity may need to be adjusted accordingly for those populations.

Bariatric surgery

Bariatric Surgery is a procedure performed on obese people or on those who are recommended for surgery to help with weight loss and certain metabolic conditions. However, in order to be a candidate for surgery, you must meet certain criteria as instructed by your physician.

Cost of Bariatric Surgery in India can approximately range between 2.5Lakhs to 5Lakhs. In such cases, a health insurance policy would the best and the right need protecting you from an unexpected financial strain.

The Star Comprehensive Insurance Plan offers an exclusive coverage for Bariatric Surgery. The policy can be taken both on individual and floater basis. With the comprehensive plan, you can gain the financial coverage for weight loss procedures as per hospital guidelines and instructions. The policy covers pre-hospitalisation and post-hospitalisation expenses up to specific limits.

Installment Facility: Premium can be paid on a Quarterly / Half yearly / Annually.


BMI can be an effective screening tool for some health risks, but people should use it with caution, as it ignores other factors – such as activity levels and body composition.

It is important to take a BMI measurement of children and teens based on their age and sex, as their bodies constantly change.


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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