BMI of Women and Men: Calculation and Interpretation

The BMI is an index that informs us of a person's muscle mass. This is how we can find out if our weight is normal or if it's below or above the parameters according to our height.
BMI of Women and Men: Calculation and Interpretation

Last update: 12 September, 2019

Our body mass index is information that we can’t ignore, whether we want to lose weight or if we want to know if we’re in good shape. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the BMI of women and men, how to calculate it, and also how to interpret the results.

What is BMI?

Before talking about the BMI of women and men, it’s very important to define it. The acronym stands for “body mass index” and it’s the result of a calculation involving the height and mass of each person.

The BMI was devised by a Belgian statesman named Adolphe Quetelet. Basically, it’s purpose is for us to know the amount of body mass we have, if we’re at our ideal weight, or if we’re below or above it.

While the BMI is widely used by women and men (it’s good for people over 18 since children and adolescents require other calculations), it also has certain limitations. The following stand out among them:

  • It ignores physical variations in very tall or very short people. 
  • Doesn’t differentiate between fat mass and muscle mass.
  • It doesn’t take into account a person’s health and its consequences. 
  • The numeric value we obtain isn’t constant (it varies with age).
  • We would need more data (for example, proportions of adipose and muscular tissues) to get an accurate result.

Nonetheless, our BMI is a good parameter that we must take into account if we’re about to start a diet or if we want to know how overweight we are. It’s certainly useful to know if we’re below our normal weight as well.

Additionally, depending on the value of the BMI calculation, we can discover facts about our basal metabolism and the calorie expenditure that takes place during physical activity.

Our BMI will determine if we are overweight.

How to calculate the BMI for women and men

We can find different calculators online that are able to calculate our BMI by only using two facts: our weight and height. The formula for knowing the body mass index is as follows: body weight (kg) / height (m)2.

It’s easier to understand with an example: if you weigh 60 kilos and are 1.69 meters tall, the calculation would be: 60/(1.69)2. The result is 21; in this case, the person is at a normal weight. How do we know? We use a table that was created by the inventor of this system:

  • Severe thinness: 16 or less.
  • Moderate thinness: between 16 and 17.
  • Slight thinness: between 17 and 18.5.
  • Normal weight: between 18.5 and 24.9.
  • Preobesity: between 25 and 29.9.
  • Type 1 obesity: between 30 and 34.9.
  • Type 2 obesity: between 35 and 39.9.
  • Type 3 obesity: more than 40.

Can I trust the BMI of women and men?

It’s not about calculating our BMI and doing nothing else. The point is to use this information as a parameter to identify the condition we’re in. Many times, we think that we’re overweight due to an aesthetic issue, but that’s not really the case. Similarly, we may not realize that we’re actually underweight to a certain degree.

Therefore, the result of this formula is the initial kick-off for changes (if necessary). Nevertheless, a consultation with a professional will be necessary. A doctor will use this information and other sources to prepare a diet according to your needs

Doctors use your BMI and other facts to create a diet plan.

What else can a nutritionist analyze?

For example, a nutritionist can measure waist circumference, ask us to take certain tests (blood, urine, etc.), or inquire about the type and intensity of weekly exercise we do.

With all this information, we can have a more accurate diagnosis of our physical condition. It’s important to keep in mind that the BMI calculation for women and men isn’t a measure of fatness. If it were, a person who practices bodybuilding and has more muscle than fat would probably appear as an obese person according to this formula.

Lastly, you have to remember that weight is one of the factors that’s most related to certain diseases. This is true when it’s either above or below the normal amount. In the first case, we’ll be more prone to cholesterol and hypertension; in the second scenario, anemia and amenorrhea (in women).

To summarize, we can calculate the BMI for women and men to get a general idea of our state of health. This is the starting point for making certain changes in our diet and exercise routine.

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  • Vázques, M., Carrera, A., Durán, A., & Gómez, O. (2016). Correlación del índice de masa corporal con el índice de masa grasa para diagnosticar sobrepeso y obesidad en población militar. Revista Sanidad Militar Mexicana.