Body Composition

Body Mass Index (BMI): BMI is a number that is based on a person's weight and height. It can be used to identify people at risk for some health problems. 1 Higher BMI values indicate greater weight per unit of height.

BMI is related to the risk of disease and death. The score is valid for both men and women, but it does have some limitations,

  • 1. It may overestimate body fat in athletes and others who have a muscular build, and
  • 2. It may underestimate body fat in older persons and others who have lost muscle mass.
Body Composition

Waist Circumference can serve as another indicator for some health risks for individuals who may have a BMI classification of normal or overweight (a BMI score between 18.5 and 29.9). A high waist circumference is associated with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, elevated blood lipids (fats like cholesterol and triglycerides), hypertension, and cardiovascular disease in patients with a BMI between 25 and 34.9. 2 Recording changes over time in waist circumference is important since it can change even when body weight remains the same.

1 More information available at http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/bmi/; Accessed November 30, 2006.

2National Institutes of Health, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Obesity Education Initiative Guidelines on Overweight and Obesity Electronic Toolkit. Available on-line at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/e_txtbk/txgd/4142.htm Accessed: October 3, 2006.

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