Beyond BMI: Body Composition Analysis

We are made up of various substances such as water, protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. The body needs to stay in a balance and obtain a normal weight to stay healthy. If we lack in or have too much of certain substances, we could become unhealthy at a fast rate. For instance, gaining too much weight from fat, could put you at risk for heart disease and stroke. High blood pressure, diabetes, and bad cholesterol can all affect your health due to excess fat in the body, especially if the fat stores around your waistline.

Obesity and the Connection with Heart Disease

In order to reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other health related illnesses, you must lose weight if you are overweight or obese. One way to figure out your “body composition” is by checking your waist circumference and body mass index (BMI). If you’re overweight or obese, you can reduce your risk for heart disease by successfully losing weight and keeping it off.

To find your waist circumference, measure the distance around your waist just above the navel. You want to try to keep the waist circumference less than 35 inches if you are female and less than 40 inches if you are male. If your BMI is greater than or equal to 25 kg/m2, that number is considered too much.

What is the BMI?

One measure of body composition is using the body mass index (BMI). This is used by assessing your body weight and height. It works well with body fat in most individuals. Next the weight is divided by the height, usually in kilograms and meters. The National Center for Health Statistics provided a study chart:

  • Overweight – A body mass index of 25.0 to 30.0 is considered overweight. BMI of 25 kg/m2 correlates to around ten percent over the ideal body weight. Individuals with a BMI of this number greatly increase chances of heart disease, diabetes and even blood vessel disease.Weight Loss Clinic phoenix AZ
  • Underweight – These individuals will have a BMI value less than 18.5.
  • Normal weight -Healthy individuals should show BMI values at 18.5 to 24.9.
  • Extreme obesity – BMI of forty or greater is considered extreme obesity.

Based on NIH guidelines, a BMI value of 30.0 or greater is considered obese which would equal to 30 lbs or more overweight. Individuals with this reading of course like the extreme obese are at a much higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

BMI scores may at times be high when a person isn’t overweight. This happens to some individuals who are either athletes or who work out and develop dense muscle mass. These people will have a small percentage of body fat. Many times skin-fold thickness or waist circumference is a better way of measuring their body fat and getting a more accurate measure.

In order to calculate your exact BMI value, multiply your weight in pounds by 703, divide by your height in inches, then divide again by your height in inches.

BMI Risk Level

  • First, get a scale to weigh yourself. Place it on a hard surface with no rugs. Wear the least amount possible of clothing.
  • Next, weigh yourself and round off to the nearest number or pounds.
  • After that, you want to measure your height. Stand straight with your head against the wall along with your shoulders and buttocks. Keep your head forward and heels together.
  • You want to measure your height to the nearest quarter of an inch so mark it at the highest point of your head.

Below is a table of the Body Mass Index Risk Levels. In the first column, find your height in feet and inches. The ranges of weight correlates to minimal risk, moderate risk (overweight) and high risk (obese). For each height, they are shown in the three columns.

Height Minimal risk
(BMI under 25)
Moderate risk
(BMI 25–29.9)
High risk
(BMI 30 and above)
4’10” 118 lbs. or less 119–142 lbs. 143 lbs. or more
4’11” 123 or less 124–147 148 or more
5’0 127 or less 128–152 153 or more
5’1″ 131 or less 132–157 158 or more
5’2′ 135 or less 136–163 164 or more
5’3″ 140 or less 141–168 169 or more
5’4″ 144 or less 145–173 174 or more
5’5″ 149 or less 150–179 180 or more
5’6″ 154 or less 155–185 186 or more
5’7″ 158 or less 159–190 191 or more
5’8″ 163 or less 164–196 197 or more
5’9″ 168 or less 169–202 203 or more
5’10” 173 or less 174–208 209 or more
5’11” 178 or less 179–214 215 or more
6’0″ 183 or less 184–220 221 or more
6’1″ 188 or less 189–226 227 or more
6’2″ 193 or less 194–232 233 or more
6’3″ 199 or less 200–239 240 or more
6’4″ 204 or less 205–245 246 or more

Adapted from Obesity Education Initiative: Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults, National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Obesity Research 1998, 6 Suppl 2:51S-209S/


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