How do you measure up?

Body mass index and waist measurements are the tools most used to measure obesity

Karen Miller | 10/10/2013, 6 a.m.
BMI and waist size are used to calculate disease risk

1. Determine your Body Mass Index (BMI)

Although the Body Mass Index (BMI), a calculation based on height and weight, helps measure a person’s “desirable” weight, it is not always accurate. Athletic people with well-developed muscles often have a BMI higher than normal because muscle weighs more than fat. However, when combined with other measurements, such as waist size, the BMI is a helpful tool in determining whether a person should lose weight to reduce health risks.

Calculate your BMI with the quick BMI calculator

BMI Categories:

Underweight Less than 18.5

Normal weight 18.5 – 24.9

Overweight 25 – 29.9

Obesity 30 or greater

Extreme obesity 40 and above

2. Measure your waist circumference

Accumulation of weight around and above the waist (apple-shaped) rather than the hips and buttocks (pear-shaped) increases a person’s risk for cardiovascular disease.

To accurately measure your waist:

  • Place a tape measure around your bare abdomen just above your hip bone.
  • Be sure the tape is snug but does not push into your skin.
  • Check to make sure the tape measure is level all the way around.
  • Relax, breathe out and measure your waist.

Desirable Waist Measurements

Women: 35 inches or less

Men: 40 inches or less

3. Calculate your disease risk for

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • hypertension
  • heart disease — relative to your BMI and waist circumference.

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute