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How to Measure Your Risk: Body Mass Index

Most of us know when we gain weight. Clothes no longer fit. The mirror becomes an irritating reminder, and the scale is permanently hidden under the bed. But it’s far too easy to overlook these warning signs and remain in the dark about your health risks from overweight and obesity.

Fortunately, science offers two methods for assessing body fat. While they’re not perfectly accurate, they both tell you whether, and how urgently, you need to take steps to control your weight and reduce your cancer risk.

1. Body Mass Index (BMI)* is one common method used to measure overweight and obesity. BMI is a measure of body fat based on a person's weight and height. The BMI chart shows four ranges: underweight, healthy, overweight and obese. Staying within the healthy range throughout life is important for lowering your cancer risk.

Use the BMI Calculator , the mathematical formula, or the BMI chart to estimate your total body fat.

2. Waist Circumference is another method of assessing your body weight. All you need to do is find a tape measure and follow these easy steps.

  1. Place a tape measure around your waist immediately above the tip of your hipbone.
  2. Measure your waist after exhaling.
  3. Determine your health risk. For women, a waist measurement of 31.5 inches or more indicates high risk. For men, a waist measurement of 37 inches or more indicates high risk.

BMI - Mathamatical Formula

Body Mass Index equation:

BMI = [             weight in pounds             
(height in inches) x (height in inches)
] x 703

For example, a person who weighs 150 pounds and is 5 feet 3 inches tall has a BMI of 26.5.

[             150 lbs.            
(63 inches) x (63 inches)
] x 703 = 26.5

BMI Chart

To use the table, find your height in the left-hand column labeled "height." Locate your weight (in pounds) to the right. The number at the bottom of that weight column is the BMI for your height and weight.

Height
Weight in Pounds (without clothes)
4'11'' 94< 99 104 109 114 119 124 128 133 138 143 148 173 198
5' 97 102 107 112 118 123 128 133 138 143 148 153 179 204
5'1'' 100 106 111 116 122 127 132 137 143 148 153 158 185 211
5'2'' 104 109 115 120 126 131 136 142 147 153 158 164 191 218
5'3'' 107 113 118 124 130 135 141 146 152 158 163 169 197 225
5'4'' 110 116 122 128 134 140 145 151 157 163 169 174 204 232
5'5'' 114 120 126 132 138 144 150 156 162 168 174 180 210 240
5'6'' 118 124 130 136 142 148 155 161 167 173 179 186 216 247
5'7'' 121 127 134 140 146 153 159 166 172 178 185 191 223 255
5'8'' 125 131 138 144 151 158 164 171 177 184 190 197 230 262
5'9'' 128 135 142 149 155 162 169 176 182 189 196 203 236 270
5'10'' 132 139 146 153 160 167 174 181 188 195 202 207 243 278
5'11'' 136 143 150 157 165 172 179 186 193 200 208 215 250 286
6' 140 147 154 162 169 177 184 191 199 206 213 221 258 294
6'1'' 144 151 159 166 174 182 189 197 204 212 219 227 265 302
6'2'' 148 155 163 171 179 186 194 202 210 218 225 233 272 311
BMI
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
35
40
Healthy
Overweight
Obese

 

striped socks on scale

Learn More

Read the latest issue of AICR eNews. Subscribe to start receiving expert advice, recipes and research updates on eating smart, staying lean and moving more for lower cancer risk.

BMI Calculator

 
Height: feet
and inch(es)
Weight: pounds
 

Your BMI:


BMI
Weight Status
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5 - 24.9 Normal
25.0 - 29.9 Overweight
30.0 and Above Obese

BMI may not be an accurate measure for everyone, including people who have more muscle mass, like athletes; seniors with less muscle mass; or for people under 5 feet tall.

If you are at high risk, learn how you can lose weight.

If you are not at risk, learn how to prevent weight gain.

Published on May 1, 2013

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