What is a healthy BMI for women?


Quick Answer

A normal body mass index range for all adults is between 18.5 and 24.9, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Women with a BMI below this range are underweight, and those above it are overweight.

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Full Answer

The BMI helps to determine if a person is within a healthy weight range, according to the American Cancer Society. Health care professionals use BMI as a screening tool for their patients. When the BMI is outside the normal range, the patient is at increased risk for heart disease, cancer and diabetes. While the tool works well for most people, it gives inaccurate readings for individuals with a large amount of muscle mass, such as body builders. The test may show them as obese, even though they have very little body fat. A doctor uses other tests, including skin fold tests and waist size evaluation to determine if the high BMI indicates a health concern. The BMI sometimes underestimates body fat in older adults who lose body mass.

While it is possible to calculate BMI information for children, the table differs for individuals under age 20, according to the CDC. In children and teens, the normal range depends on the child's age and sex. The scale reflects the differences in body fat that occur as the child grows.

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