For many years, doctors and researchers used insurance statistics to determine what people should weigh. Today, we have a better approach that takes into account the health risks of being overweight. It’s called the Body Mass Index (or BMI), and like your cholesterol and blood pressure, it’s an important number to understand. A higher BMI increases the risk of weight-related health problems.

BMI is a measure which takes into account a person’s weight and height to gauge total body fat in adults. Someone with a BMI of 26 to 27 is about 20 percent overweight, which is generally believed to carry moderate health risks. A BMI of 30 and higher is considered obese. The higher the BMI, the greater the risk of developing additional health problems.

A healthy weight is considered to be a BMI of 24 or less. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight. A BMI of 30 and above is considered obese. Individuals who fall into the BMI range of 25 to 34.9, and have a waist size of over 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women, are considered to be at especially high risk for health problems.

Use the BMI Calculator below to figure your BMI.