BMI Made Simple Using Maximum Weight Limit

Sep 19 2009 - 12:45pm

A researcher from Nevada has made it simple to understand BMI (body mass index). The current formula is complex, and requires an online calculator, chart, or the following formula: weight in pounds, multiplied by 703, and then divided by height in inches squared. Then a chart is needed to tell us if we are within a healthy weight range. A new way to find your BMI is by transposing the formula into a simple “Maximum Weight Limit”.

No wonder the familiar term BMI, or body mass index is tossed around with no real application for most of us. The new proposal to determine if your body weight is healthy involves a simple formula, discovered by George Fernandez, a professor of applied statistics and director of the Center for Research Design and Analysis at the University of Nevada, Reno – he calls it the “Maximum Weight Limit”, much like maximum speed limit.

Fernandez says, "We need a "Maximum Weight Limit, or MWL, one number that we know we can't go over, just like a speed limit." Making BMI simple to keep track of means we can better target when we have gone too far with weight gains.

Fernandez used SAS software and statistical procedures to discover a simple way to find our Maximum Weight Limit that correlates closely with the complex equation needed to calculate BMI to know if your body weight is healthy. "It's a very simple calculation that most of us can do in our heads," using baseline measurements.

"These are nice round numbers that people can easily remember: 5-feet, 9-inches tall, 175 pounds for a man; and 5-feet tall, 125 pounds for a woman." Using the preceding, men add or subtract 5 pounds for every inch taller or shorter than 5 feet, 9 inches. Women do the same, but use 4.5 pounds because of less muscle mass. So – if you are 5 feet, 7 inches tall, a man, and weigh 175 pounds, your Maximum Weight Limit should be 165 pounds. A woman 5 feet, 4 inches tall, weighing 150 pounds has a Maximum Weight Limit of 143 pounds.

Maximum Weight Limit, calculated as above, corresponds to a healthy BMI which should be 25.5 for men and 24.5 for women. Now you can keep your Maximum Weight Limit in your head, ensuring you are not at risk for chronic illness from tipping the maximum healthy weight scales too far.

University of Nevada

Written by Kathleen Blanchard, RN
Charlotte, NC
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