# How to Calculate BMI

**Body Mass Index, abbreviated BMI, is a simple way to screen for possible weight problems.** While BMI does not match actual body fat percentage, it is a fairly reliable way of estimating this figure. Even though a resulting BMI may indicate riskier levels of excess weight, a final determination may need to be made through further individual medical information. You can calculate BMI at home by following these steps.

Measure your current weight on an accurate scale.

### A Weight and Height Chart for Women

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Stand against a wall or door and place a flat piece of cardboard on top of your head. **Have someone make a light pencil mark on the wall just atop the cardboard.** Then measure its height in either feet and inches or meters and centimeters.

Use either of these formulas for U.S. units, depending on how the measurements were made: BMI = weight in lbs. times 703 divided by height in inches squared; or BMI = weight in lbs. times 4.88 divided by height in feet squared. Here is an example for a person weighing 172 lbs. **and who is 6 feet 1 inch tall: BMI = (172 X 703) ÷ (73 X 73) = 120916 ÷ 5329 = 22.7 rounded to a single decimal.**

### Normal Weight for a 5'4" Girl

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Calculate BMI using metric units with this formula: BMI = weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. Using the same equivalent height and weight, which converts to 1.85 meters and 78.2 kilograms, yields BMI = 78.2 ÷ (1.85 X 1.85) = 78.2 ÷ 3.4 = 22.8 rounded to a single decimal. **Note that, due to rounding errors, the metric result may differ slightly from the U.S. measure.**

Decide where the resulting BMI fits on the scale from underweight to obese: Underweight: 17.9 Normal: 18 to 25 Overweight: 25.1 to 29.9 Moderately obese: 30 to 40 Severely obese: More than 40

#### Tips

These formulas assume that male and female BMI figures are comparable, although opinions differ on this issue. However, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) use BMI as a starting point because of its inexpensiveness.

There are more detailed methods to determine true body fat percentage, such as skin fold measurement, weighing a person underwater, bioelectrical impedance and other expensive tests.

Many automatic BMI calculators can be found on the Internet.

#### Warnings

Consult medical personnel when the BMI is either over or under normal readings.

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Tips

- These formulas assume that male and female BMI figures are comparable, although opinions differ on this issue. However, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) use BMI as a starting point because of its inexpensiveness.
- There are more detailed methods to determine true body fat percentage, such as skin fold measurement, weighing a person underwater, bioelectrical impedance and other expensive tests.
- Many automatic BMI calculators can be found on the Internet.

Warnings

- Consult medical personnel when the BMI is either over or under normal readings.

Writer Bio

Robert Karr has been a writer, indexer, reference librarian, computer programmer and Web designer. He has a Master’s Degree in Library Science. Karr has 30 years experience in reference and research and has been writing professionally for 25 years, focusing on the library, medical and computer areas.