Q: Who sets the BMI standards?
A: Medical professionals most often use BMI instead of height/weight charts when studying the effect of body weight on health. 7
In 1995, the World Health Organization recommended a classification for three "grades" of overweight using BMI cutoff points of 25, 30, and 40. The International Obesity Task Force suggested an additional cutoff point of 35 and slightly different terminology. 8
In 1998, two organizations within National Institutes of Health -- the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases -- put together an expert panel who released a report with definitions for overweight and obesity in agreement with those used by the World Health Organization.
The panel identified overweight as a BMI of 25, but less than 30, and obesity as a BMI of 30 or greater. The panel based these definitions on evidence that health risks increase steeply in individuals with a BMI of 25+. 5
Q: What are the long-term effects of my BMI being 25 or higher?
A: According to the NIH Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults, adults who have a BMI of 25 or more are considered at risk for premature death and disability as a consequence of overweight and obesity. These health risks increase even more as the severity of an individual's obesity increases. 1
Q: What if I want to know the BMI of a child?
A: Our pediatrics Guide has an excellent tool at his site, a BMI calculator. This tool will assist you in interpreting your child's BMI and help you assess whether or not your child is underweight.
1 Defining Overweight and Obesity: [http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity/defining.htm]
5 Statistics Related to Overweight and Obesity: [http://win.niddk.nih.gov/statistics/index.htm]
7 Body Mass Index for Adults: [http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/bmi/bmi-adult.htm]
8 Why is Obesity a Growing Problem in America?: [http://www.joslin.harvard.edu/news/obesity02.shtml]