How do you determine what a normal weight is for you? The BMI is one method. It measures the ratio between height and weight. To determine your BMI, divide your weight in pounds by your height in inches. Then divide the answer by your height in inches. Multiply the answer by 703. The Department of Health and Human Services has a handy BMI calculator online at


Underweight = <18.5

Normal weight = 18.5-24.9

Overweight = 25-29.9

Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater

(from the Department of Health and Human Services)

The BMI doesn’t tell the whole story though. Normal weight people can still be obese. Obesity is an excess of fat, not weight. A normal weight person can have a high percentage of body fat and still be in the normal BMI category. “High” meaning thirty percent or more of their body is made up of fat. Most fitness centers have what’s called a Bio-Impedance, a quick and painless procedure that looks at body composition using an electrical current. There are other methods of calculating your body fat. Why should you care? Because according to Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D., a Mayo Clinic Cardiologist, excessive body fat can lead to high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, insulin resistance, and puts you at an increased risk for Type II Diabetes. Here’s how it breaks down, according to The American Council on Exercise:

Classification Women (% fat) Men (% fat)

Essential Fat 10-12% 2-4%

Athletes 14-20% 6-13%

Fitness 21-24% 14-17%

Acceptable 25-31% 18-25%

Obese 32% plus 25% plus

Along with a healthy diet, it’s time to get some exercise. This doesn’t have to mean training for a triathlon. It can be as simple as what the YOU Docs, Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen suggest – a daily half hour walk or four ten minute walks throughout the day. If you’re already incorporating regular exercise in your weekly routine, it might still be a good idea to get your percentage of body fat checked, if for no other reason than to give yourself a giant pat on the back. You deserve it.

By Kami Gray