Definition of Body Mass Index (BMI)

Reviewed on 4/5/2020

Body mass index: A key index for relating weight to height. Abbreviated BMI. BMI is a person's weight in kilograms (kg) divided by his or her height in meters squared. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) now defines normal weight, overweight, and obesity according to BMI rather than the traditional height/weight charts.

  • Overweight is a BMI of 27.3 or more for women and 27.8 or more for men.
  • Obesity is a BMI of 30 or more for either sex (about 30 pounds overweight).
  • A very muscular person might have a high BMI without health risks.


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