Since the late 1800’s, body mass index (BMI) has been one of the widely used methods to check whether an individual is at a health weight for his or her height.
This health metric correlates the total weight of an individual against his or her height, with possible results graded as underweight, normal, overweight, or obese.
As obesity rates have exploded over the past two decades, BMI has become an important data point to determine an individual’s overall health.
Fine Tuning BMI Calculations
In fact, if you’ve had a physical check-up with your doctor at any point in your adult life, it’s very likely your BMI was measured and added to your medical records.
But did you know you that the way your BMI results are used can differ depending on your gender?
That’s right, doctors have begun moving away from the “one size fits all” approach used for so long in favor of a more fine tuned calculation based on gender.
According to scientific research, an average woman has about 25% body fat by weight while an average man has just 15% body fat by weight.
Men are generally more muscular, while women have more fat deposited on the body especially around their glutes, hips and thighs.
How is BMI Calculated for Females?
Since the BMI correlates body weight and body height, the same components of the general BMI calculation are used.
BMI = mass (lb) / (height ((inches))2 x 703
Fortunately there are many free online resources that prompt you to enter your height and weight and calculate your BMI automatically.
Once you know your BMI, you can see what specific weight segment you fall under:
- Very Severely Underweight: <15
- Severely Underweight: 15.0 to 16.0
- Underweight: <18.5
- Normal: 18.5 to 24.9
- Overweight: 25.0 to 29.9
- Moderately Obese: 30 to 35
- Severely Obese: 35 to 40
- Very Severely Obese: >40
Keep in mind that a BMI reading doesn’t equate to an equal body fat composition between men and women.
A female BMI needs to be adjusted to create a more accurate impression of fat deposits on her body. Additional lifestyle variables such as age and level of physical activity can be factored into the calculations to more accurately assess if an individual is at a healthy weight.
Going Beyond BMI Index for Females
Although BMI gives a good snapshot on how healthy one’s weight is, it’s worth noting that this is just a screening test and there are plenty of other tests that can, and should, be taken if an you fall in an unhealthy BMI range.
Excessive accumulation of fat around the waist, abdomen, and arms is considered a significant indicator of unhealthy fat. This type of fat, also known as white adipose tissue, may have a negative impact on one’s health.
On the other hand, extensive fat deposits on the hips, thighs and glutes but not the arms, waist, and abdominal region is considered healthy.
BMI is an important health metric that can provide a snapshot of an individuals overall health.
The same method is used to calculate BMI for both genders. Because women generally have less lean muscle mass than men, they should always use BMI calculators designed for females when determining BMI.