November 01, 2020

My BMI number puts me in the overweight category. Should I be concerned?

Q: At my annual checkup, I was happy to hear that my blood pressure and cholesterol levels are normal. But my doctor said that my BMI puts me in the overweight category. Should I be concerned?

A: Probably, in the sense that it spurs you to evaluate health risks with your doctor and make any needed lifestyle changes. Body mass index (BMI) is one measure of health among many. Some people can be healthy and carry more weight than guidelines consider ideal. It's also true that some people with a BMI in the normal range can be at increased risk of health problems, particularly if they carry a high percentage of body fat around the middle.

BMI
 

To find your BMI, visit MayoClinic.org and search with the term "BMI calculator." Then enter your sex, age, height, weight and waist circumference into the online calculator. BMI values between 18.5 and 24.9 are considered normal. Values between 25 and 30 are considered overweight, and values greater than 30 are considered obese. Generally, a BMI of more than 30 is associated with higher risks of health issues, including a higher likelihood of developing health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. It's also linked to greater risk of several types of cancer.

If your BMI puts you in the overweight or obese category, first understand some caveats about BMI: It doesn't take muscle mass or ethnic differences into account. Then talk to your doctor about your health risks and changes you can make to improve your health. In general, if your BMI is less than 35, you don't have chronic...