Body Mass Index

A more recent approach to the evaluation of nutritional status refers to body mass index (BMI). It affords a more accurate measurement, as follows: body weight (kg)/height2 (m2).

The reference table (Table 11) includes only five classes: 0 = < 20 kg/m2, weight deficit; N = 20-24.9 kg/m2, normal; 1 = 25-29.9 kg/m2, mild weight excess; 2 = 30-39.9 kg/m2, obesity; 3 = > 40 kg/m2, severe obesity.

Table 11. Body mass index: values of the body classes

0 =

< 20.0 kg/m2

Body mass deficit

N =

= 20.0-24.9 kg/m2


1 =

25.0-29.9 kg/m2

Moderate excess of weight

2 =

30.0-39.9 kg/m2

Significant excess of weight

3 =

> 40.0 kg/m2

Very significant excess of weight

Recently it has been proposed that the obesity threshold should be lowered to 25 kg/m2, based on epidemiological studies showing an increase in all-cause, metabolic, cancer and cardiovascular morbidity when BMI is greater than or equal to 25. In normal adults in western countries, the mean is 24, in less developed countries it is 20-21, with a mean of 18 in some cases.

BMI has been used in social and economic studies and a good correlation was observed with lean muscle mass, serum albumin levels, oxygen expenditure, hydrostatic weight measurement, potassium and water content. A statistically significant correlation of BMI and morbidity-mortality from all causes, diabetes, cardiovascular and infectious diseases, and cancer has been shown by unequivocal studies.

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