Term: BMI

BMI is a statistical measurement which compares a person's weight and height. It was invented by the Belgian polymath Adolphe Quetelet around 1830 to 1850 during his studies on social physics. Used by everyone from nutritionist to medical doctors, the BMI is very easy to measure and has been credited as being “the most widely used diagnostic tool to identify obesity inside a selected group"(CDC's BMI Index). While not the end all end all when diagnosing a patient, its effectiveness and ease of use has made it popular worldwide.

To find the BMI, you take the individual’s body weight and divide it by the square of their height. Just from the previous sentence, it’s easy to see that anyone can apply the BMI to themselves and keep tabs on their index through the course of their diet, rehabilitation, etc. In regards to a healthy BMI, it’s regarded that a BMI of less than 18.5 is underweight, indicating a possible case of eating disorder or malnutrition. Over 25 is considered overweight, over 30 being obese. The ranges are for adults and specific cases warrant different outcomes.


  • Statistical Device
  • Clinical Practice
  • medical underwriting of private health insurance plan

BMI is also used in medical practices as a plausible determinant of other diseas
BMI can also be used as a determinant for other diseases that are often linked with weight. Heart disease, gall bladder disease, diabetes and certain types of cancers. For example, a Caucasian male with BMI of over 30 has a 75% higher chance of acquiring Barrett’s esophagus, a pre-determinant of esophageal cancer. BMI is not necessarily an overweight person, but rather a person who is considered overweight for their individual height and size. Individuals who have a higher BMI are more likely to experience weight related health issues like shortness of breath, back pain due to spinal pressure and circulatory related swelling. Although many people experience negative physical effects due to their BMI, regular exercise along with a healthy diet can dramatically help re-center a persons BMI.

Web Resources:

BMI calculator
CDC's BMI index


BMI calculator

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