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Question
Posted by: Andre Venter | 2011/07/03

BMI - same for women as for men

How come the BMI calculation formula is the same for both men and women - surely men of a specific height would weigh more than women of equal height?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageEating Disorders Expert

Hi Andre,
As you likely know, Body Mass Index is calculated as Weight (in kilograms) over Height (in metres) squared. The formula for both men and women is the same, but the norms are different, in that for women, a normal weight range will require your BMI to sit between 18.5 and 24, while for men the norm range is slightly higher, viz., 19.5 to 25. For children, the norms are also quite a bit lower. However, as much as BMI is the most universally popular clinical method of calculating weight status, it is by no means the only method, and a number of other formulas have been developed. Google them, as they are quite interesting. Someone has proposed that one cubes the height instead of squaring it, for instance, suggesting that this would make the formula even more accurate. Another thing to take into account is that for males, the BMI norms are less reliable, as males generally have more muscle tissue than females, and this will lend to weight being higher, but health not necessarily being compromised. A body builder, for instance, will likely have a BMI way in excess of 25, but is neither overweight nor unhealthy, weight-wise. So, BMI is a good guideline, but other factors should be considered. Hope this helps.
Regards,
Graham

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Our users say:
Posted by: Eating Disorders and Obesity Expert | 2011/07/14

Hi Andre,
As you likely know, Body Mass Index is calculated as Weight (in kilograms) over Height (in metres) squared. The formula for both men and women is the same, but the norms are different, in that for women, a normal weight range will require your BMI to sit between 18.5 and 24, while for men the norm range is slightly higher, viz., 19.5 to 25. For children, the norms are also quite a bit lower. However, as much as BMI is the most universally popular clinical method of calculating weight status, it is by no means the only method, and a number of other formulas have been developed. Google them, as they are quite interesting. Someone has proposed that one cubes the height instead of squaring it, for instance, suggesting that this would make the formula even more accurate. Another thing to take into account is that for males, the BMI norms are less reliable, as males generally have more muscle tissue than females, and this will lend to weight being higher, but health not necessarily being compromised. A body builder, for instance, will likely have a BMI way in excess of 25, but is neither overweight nor unhealthy, weight-wise. So, BMI is a good guideline, but other factors should be considered. Hope this helps.
Regards,
Graham

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