Adapted from: U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; U.S. National Institutes of Health (2000). The Practical Guide: Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults. (NIH Publication No. 00-4084). Available online: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/prctgd_c.pdf
the chart to locate your height and weight. The shaded regions on the chart
correspond to normal and overweight ranges based on body mass index (BMI). Keep
in mind that this is only a guide. It is not a tool to determine ideal body
weight. It is a tool to help you see whether your weight is increasing your
risk for disease. People who are very muscular or those who have very little
muscle may not get an accurate BMI by using their height and weight alone.
Muscle weighs more than fat, so a muscular person may appear to have a higher
BMI, or a frail, inactive person may have more body fat than is healthy.
For adults 20 years and older:
A BMI below 18.5 (shown in white) is considered
A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 (green) is considered a
A BMI of 25 to 29.9 (yellow) is considered
A BMI of 30 or higher (red) is considered
A person who has a large change in BMI, even if he or she is
not overweight or underweight, should be evaluated to find the cause. If you
are Asian, your health may be at risk with a lower BMI.1
A clinical diagnosis of
obesity also includes a determination of your waist circumference and risk
If you are within the normal BMI range and your
waist measurement is lower than the cutoff, stay at that weight and check your
fitness level, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
In men, a
waist circumference greater than
40 in. (101.6 cm) is considered
a health risk. Women who have a waist size larger than
35 in. (88.9 cm) are considered
at risk. In Asian people, health problems are seen with a smaller waist size.
In Asian women, a waist size of 32 in. (80 cm) or more raises the chance for
disease. In Asian men, a waist size of 36 in. (90 cm) or more raises the chance
If you are in the
overweight (BMI of 25 to 29.9) or obese (BMI of 30 or higher) category and your
waist measurement is higher than the cutoff level, talk to your doctor about
other risk factors you may have, including type 2 diabetes, smoking, high blood
pressure, high cholesterol, and being inactive. If you have two or more risk
factors, your doctor will probably advise you to lose weight and to change your
eating and physical activity habits to reduce your risk factors for blood
vessel disease, such as coronary artery disease (CAD), peripheral arterial
disease (PAD), and coronary vascular disease (CVD).
1Razak F, et al. (2007).
Defining obesity cut points in a multiethnic population. Circulation, 115(16):
2Purnell JQ (2005). Obesity. In DC
Dale, DD Federman, eds., ACP Medicine, section 3, chap. 10. New York: WebMD.
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.