U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Indian Health Service: The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention - Leading the effort to treat and prevent diabetes in American Indians and Alaska Natives


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Body Mass Index (BMI)

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NOTE: Access to this information is not restricted; however, the information found here is intended for use by medical providers. Some videos contain graphic images. Patients should talk with their medical providers about any specific concerns.

Why measure BMI?

  • Individuals who are obese with a BMI ≥30 kg/m2 are more likely to develop diabetes.
  • BMI is an indirect measure of body fatness.
  • An individual’s height and weight are used to calculate BMI.

Measuring Height

  • To obtain an accurate measurement, use a stadiometer (device used to measure height).
  • Have individual remove shoes and stand erect with feet together and knees straight.
  • Heels, buttocks, shoulders and back of head should touch the stadiometer; individuals should be looking straight ahead.
  • Record height to the nearest 0.5 cm (1/8 inch).

Measuring Weight

  • To obtain an accurate measurement, use a calibrated balance beam scale.
  • Make sure the scale pointer is at zero.
  • Individual should be wearing light clothes and remove their shoes.
  • Have the individual stand unassisted (if possible) on the center of the balance platform. Record weight to the nearest 0.1 kg (1/4 lb).

Interpreting BMI

  • You can use an equation, table or online program to determine BMI.
  • BMI = weight (kg) divided by height squared (m2) or BMI = weight (lbs) multiplied by 703 then divided by height squared (inches2)
  • Body Mass Index (BMI) is an indirect measure for body fatness.
  • Ranges for BMI (kg/m2):
    • Underweight is defined as below 18.5
    • Normal is between 15.5 and 24.9
    • Overweight is defined as 25.0 to 29.9
    • Obese is ≥30
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Overview How To Other Resources EHR Documentation

Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention | Phone: (505) 248-4182 | Fax: (505) 248-4188 | diabetesprogram@ihs.gov