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Can Someone With a High BMI Still Be Considered Healthy?

The BMI score is valid for both men and women, but it does have some limitations. When BMI is used to calculate body fat:
 
  • It may overestimate body fat in athletes and others who have a muscular build (see BMI for Athletes)
  • It may underestimate body fat in older people and others who have lost muscle mass.
     
Therefore, it is possible for a person to be completely healthy but have an "unhealthy BMI." This is why healthcare providers consider other factors, including direct body fat measurements, when assessing the health risk for certain medical conditions.
 

Other Factors Besides Weight

BMI is just one way to assess a person's ideal weight for health. To determine if excess weight is a health risk, a healthcare provider will perform further assessments. According to the recent guidelines, assessment of weight involves using three key measures:
 
  • BMI
  • Waist circumference
  • Risk factors for diseases and conditions associated with obesity.
     
BMI
As mentioned, body mass index can be used to indirectly calculate the amount of body fat in an individual, but it does have its limitations.
 
(To calculate your BMI, click BMI Calculator or BMI Chart.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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