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Body mass index (BMI) is a number based on body weight in relation to your height that indicates how much your weight affects your risks for weight-related health problems. It doesn't directly measure body fat. For adults, there's no difference in BMI weight ranges for age; health risks appear to be the same, regardless of age. The same chart applies to men and women.

The generous BMI range of healthy weights allows for individual differences. Higher weights within the healthy range typically apply to people with more muscle and a larger frame, such as many men and some women. After all, muscle and bone weigh more than fat. Gaining or losing weight within these ranges isn't necessarily healthful for you.

People with a higher percentage of body fat tend to have a higher BMI than those who have a greater percentage of muscle. Carrying excess body fat puts you at greater risk for health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, and high blood pressure. The higher your BMI, the greater your risk.

What's Your BMI?

Calculate your BMI: (1) Multiply your weight in pounds times 703. (2) Divide that by your height in inches. (3) Divide that by your height in inches again! Or skip the calculations; check the BMI chart on page 23 or in the Appendices.

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