Adapted from: U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; U.S. National Institutes of Health (2000). The Practical Guide: Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults (NIH Publication No. 00-4084). Available online: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/prctgd_c.pdf
Use the chart to locate your height and weight. The shaded regions on the chart correspond to normal and overweight ranges based on body mass index (BMI). Keep in mind that this is only a guide. It is not a tool to determine ideal body weight. It is a tool to help you see whether your weight is increasing your risk for disease. People who are very muscular or those who have very little muscle may not get an accurate BMI by using their height and weight alone. Muscle weighs more than fat, so a muscular person may appear to have a higher BMI, or a frail, inactive person may have more body fat than is healthy.
For adults 18 years and older:
- A BMI below 18.5 (shown in white) is considered underweight.
- A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 (green) is considered healthy.
- A BMI of 25 to 29.9 (yellow) is considered overweight.
- A BMI of 30 or higher (red) is considered obese.
- A person who has a large change in BMI, even if he or she is not overweight or underweight, should be evaluated to find the cause. Some people may be at risk with a lower BMI.1, 2
A clinical diagnosis of obesity also includes a determination of your waist circumference and risk factors.
- If you are within the healthy BMI range and your waist measurement is lower than the cutoff, stay at that weight and check your fitness level, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
- People who carry too much fat around the middle, rather than around the hips, are more likely to have health problems. In women, a waist size of 88 cm (35 in.) or more raises the chance for disease. In men, a waist size of 102 cm (40 in.) or more raises the chance for disease.2 Waist size cutoff may be lower for some people.
- If you are in the overweight (BMI of 25 to 29.9) or obese (BMI of 30 or higher) category and your waist measurement is higher than the cutoff level, talk to your doctor about other risk factors you may have, including type 2 diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and being inactive. If you have two or more risk factors, your doctor will probably advise you to lose weight and to change your eating and physical activity habits to reduce your risk factors for blood vessel disease, such as coronary artery disease (CAD), peripheral arterial disease (PAD), and coronary vascular disease (CVD).
1Razak F, et al. (2007). Defining obesity cut points in a multiethnic population. Circulation, 115(16): 2111-2118.
2Lau DCW, et al. (2007). 2006 Canadian clinical practice guidelines on the management and prevention of obesity in adults and children. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 176(Suppl 8): 1-117.
3Purnell JQ (2005). Obesity. In DC Dale, DD Federman, eds., ACP Medicine, section 3, chap. 10. New York: WebMD.
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Colleen O'Connor, PhD, RD - Registered Dietitian
Current as ofOctober 9, 2017
Current as of: October 9, 2017
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator & Colleen O'Connor, PhD, RD - Registered Dietitian