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What is BMI?

Overweight and obesity are based on body mass index (BMI), which is a measure of an individual’s weight in relation to his or her height. BMI is highly correlated with body fat and is widely used to indicate health risks.5 According to new Canadian guidelines, aligned with those of the World Health Organization, BMI is classified into six categories, each representing a different level of risk:

BMI range Risk of developing health problems
<18.5 Increased
Normal weight
18.5 to 24.9 Least
25.0 to 29.9 Increased
Obese Class I
30.0 to 34.9 High
Obese Class II
35.0 to 39.9 Very high
Obese Class III
≥40.0 Extremely high

BMI is calculated as follows:

Metric: BMI=weight(kg)/height (metres )2

Non-metric: BMI=weight(pounds)/height (inches)2 x 703

For example, the weight cut points for a 5’10” (1.78m) person and a 5’4” (1.63 m) person would be:

Height 70''/ 1.78m

Height 64''/ 1.63m

(pounds) (kg) (pounds) (kg)
128 or less 58.4 or less 107 or less 49.0 or less
Normal weight
129 to 173 58.5 to 79.0 108 to 145 49.1 to 66.2
174 to 208 79.1 to 94.8 146 to 174 66.3 to 79.5
Obese Class I
209 to 243 94.9 to 110.7 175 to 203 79.6 to 92.8
Obese Class II
244 to 278 110.8 to 126.5 204 to 232 92.9 to 106.1
Obese Class III
279 and over 126.6 and over 233 and over 106.2 and over


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Date modified: 2005-07-06 Important Notices