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Special consideration is also needed when using the classification system. It may underestimate or overestimate health risks in specific groups such as: young adults who have not reached full growth, adults who naturally have a very lean body build, highly muscular adults, adults over 65 years of age, and certain ethnic and racial groups. More information is provided in the full report Nutrition and Healthy Eating.
The BMI (weight (kg)/height(m)2) is not a direct measure of body fat but it is the most widely investigated and most useful indicator, to date, of health risk associated with under and overweight.
Overweight and obesity
* May indicate an eating disorder or other underlying illness.
To determine WC, the measurer should stand beside the individual. WC is measured at the part of the torso located midway between the lowest rib and the iliac crest (top of pelvic bone). The tape should fit without compressing any underlying soft tissues.
For a quick determination of BMI (kg/m2), use a straightedge to help locate the point on the chart where height (in or cm) and weight (lb or kg) intersect. Read the number on the dashed line closest to this point. For example, an individual who weighs 69 kg and is 173 cm tall has a BMI of approximately 23.
Refer to the table below to identify the level of health risk associated with a particular BMI.
BMI can also be calculated using this formula
BMI = weight (kg)/height(m)2
Note: 1 inch = 2.54 centimetres and 1 pound = 0.45 kilograms
To clarify risk for each individual, other factors such as lifestyle habits, fitness level, and presence or absence of other health risk conditions also need to be considered.
The full report "Canadian Guidelines for Body Weight Classification in Adults", and other resources are available online.
ę Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada (2003). All rights reserved.
Cat. No: H49-179/2003-1E