Body Mass Index
If someone has a high body mass index, does that mean that they are overweight or obese? Are they at increased risk for health problems? The answers to these questions depend on other factors.
Body mass index is just one factor to consider when assessing a person's weight. To determine if excess weight is a health risk, a healthcare provider will perform further assessments. According to recent guidelines, assessment of weight involves using three key measures:
- Body mass index
- Waist circumference
- Risk factors for diseases and conditions associated with obesity.
Keep in mind that body mass index is a screening tool; it is not used to diagnose any medical conditions but instead is used as one measure to assess a person's weight and his or her risk for developing certain medical conditions.
If a person is overweight or obese, he or she is at an increased risk for certain medical conditions, including:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol or other lipid disorders
- Sleep apnea
- Certain cancers
- Gallbladder disease
- Fatty liver disease.
Even a small weight loss (just 5 to 10 percent of a person's current weight) will help to lower the risk of developing those diseases.
(Click BMI and Weight for more information on assessing your risk for obesity-related medical problems.)