What Is a Good Body Mass Index (BMI)?

For most adults, a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 to 24.9 indicates a healthy weight, however that may depend on various lifestyle factors. Calculate your BMI here.

A good body mass index (BMI) lies between 18.5 and 24.9 for most individuals. The BMI value for American Asians lies between 18.5 and less than 23.0 because they have an inherently high level of visceral fat.

BMI lets you know if you are underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese.

Your BMI is calculated from your weight and height, which lets you know if your weight is normal in relation to your height. Here is how you can calculate BMI:

• BMI = weight in kilograms divided by height in meter, then again divide the result by height in meter
• For example, if your height is 160 cm (1.6 m) and weight is 60 kg, your BMI is calculated as follows:
• BMI = 60 ÷ 1.60 = 37.5 and 37.5 ÷ 1.60 = 23.44

Alternatively, you can multiply your weight in pounds by 703, divide by your height in inches and then divide again by your height in inches. Additional metrics, such as waist circumference, can be useful in determining your healthy weight.

Table 2. Ideal Weight in lbs According to Height
Height Minimal risk
(BMI under 25 kg/m2)

Moderate risk
(BMI 25–29.9 kg/m2)
Overweight

High risk
(BMI 30 kg/m2 and above)
Obese

4'10'' 118 or less 119–142 143 or more
4'11'' 123 or less 124–147 148 or more
5'0'' 127 or less 128–152 153 or more
5'1'' 131 or less 132–157 158 or more
5'2'' 135 or less 136–163 164 or more
5'3'' 140 or less 141–168 169 or more
5'4'' 144 or less 145–173 174 or more
5'5'' 149 or less 150–179 180 or more
5'6'' 154 or less 155–185 186 or more
5'7'' 158 or less 159–190 191 or more
5'8'' 163 or less 164–196 197 or more
5'9'' 168 or less 169–202 203 or more
5'10'' 173 or less 174–208 209 or more
5'11'' 178 or less 179–214 215 or more
6'0'' 183 or less 184–220 221 or more
6'1'' 188 or less 189–226 227 or more
6'2'' 193 or less 194–232 233 or more
6'3'' 199 or less 200–239 240 or more
6'4'' 204 or less 205–245 246 or more

Can BMI tell you the percentage of fat in your body?

Body mass index (BMI) is an easy and inexpensive tool that can determine whether you’re at a healthy weight in relation to your height or if you need to lose weight. However, it does not tell you if the excess weight gain is due to excess body fat. Although two people can have the same BMI, they may not have a similar amount of fat percentage in their bodies because of certain physiological and lifestyle differences that include:

• Men and women may have the same BMI, but women naturally have more body fat than men.
• An old person and a young adult may have the same BMI, but older people will have less amount of muscle and bone mass than youngsters.
• An athlete and a nonathlete may have the same BMI, but the former has less body fat than the latter.
• An African American and an American may have the same BMI, but the African American is more likely to have less fat than the American. Similarly, Asians have more body fat than Americans.

Along with BMI, your doctor will consider the following factors to know if you are at a higher risk of health problems:

• Skinfold thickness measurements
• Waist–hip ratio
• Waist circumference
• Diet
• Physical activity
• Family history

Other methods to measure body fat include:

• Skinfold thickness measurements (with calipers)
• Hydrostatic or underwater weighing
• Bioelectrical impedance
• Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry
• Air displacement plethysmography (using a BOD POD machine)
• Isotope dilution

However, these methods are not available everywhere, and they either are expensive or need to be conducted by professionals with technical expertise.

What are the health risks of obesity in adults?

According to categories based on body mass index (BMI),

• A high BMI between 25 and 29.9 is termed overweight (in Asian Americans, a BMI between 23.0 and 27.5 is overweight).
• A high BMI over 30 is termed obese (a BMI above 27.5 is obese in Asian Americans).

People who have obesity are at a higher risk of many health problems, including:

SLIDESHOW

The Best Diet Tips: How to Lose Weight the Healthy Way