Screening For Weight Categories

A body mass index (BMI) screening test uses height and weight to determine one’s weight category. People in an overweight or obese category should talk to a healthcare provider about losing weight safely to avoid health problems. BMI does not diagnose the overall health of an individual. However, the results can be a wake-up call for people who have slipped into unhealthy habits leading to weight gain.


Squeezing into a category

Whether doing the math or using an online calculator, the final result of a BMI screen will be a number. If the BMI is below 18.5, a person is said to be underweight. A BMI result of 18.5-24.9 is considered a normal healthy weight. Anything falling in the range of 25-29.9 is overweight, while 30.0 and above is considered obese.

Underweight action

Any individual who is underweight should work with a doctor or registered dietician (RD) to increase calories to gain weight over time safely. Choose foods with lots of nutrients and eat more frequently. Only a healthcare professional can advise if exercise can be continued, but typically strength training is useful. Working out may stimulate the appetite and can help improve other health outcomes as well. People who fall into the normal or healthy weight category can rest easily, knowing the appropriate measurements.

A bit overweight

If the BMI results are between 25-29.9, an individual is said to be overweight, and action is needed. Following a healthy eating plan focused on reduced calories is the best approach to start with. For noticeable results, integrate plenty of leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, whole eggs, lean meat, and beans. Regular physical activity should also be encouraged. Most people can aim to safely lose 1-2lbs each week with the right combination of diet and exercise.

Dealing with obesity

If BMI falls into the obese range, more urgent action is needed to prevent serious health problems from happening. People who are obese are at higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. In addition to improving diet and exercise, people with an obese BMI may need to take further steps to lose the pounds. Weight management programs offering individual and group sessions can help. Weight-loss medication or devices are another option. Bariatric surgery is usually reserved for severe cases of obesity but can be considered if a high BMI doesn’t respond to more conservative approaches.

Taking action with BMI results

A simple calculation can provide helpful information about a person's current weight category. Further action is usually recommended for people who are overweight or obese to prevent weight-associated health problems. Weight loss can generally be managed with dietary changes and exercise, but some individuals may require more involved treatment.