What Is Body Mass Index?


Quick Answer

Body mass index, or BMI, measures the amount of body fat on adult men and women based on their height and weight, explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a general screening tool for health and obesity.

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What Is Body Mass Index?
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Full Answer

Testing for BMI is cheap and easy for clinicians, as it requires only the height and weight of an individual. The measurement involves dividing a person's weight in kilograms by the square of height in meters.

People who have a high BMI are at risk for many diseases and health conditions, such as hypertension, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Early diagnosis helps put the person back on track to a healthy lifestyle.

BMI does not measure body fat directly. To determine if a high BMI is a health risk, a health care provider needs to perform further tests to screen for certain health problems.

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