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Understanding BMI Categories: Levels of Body Mass and Obesity

By Fernando Garcia on May 17, 2016

An older man deep in thoughtWhen patients visit with Dr. Fernando Garcia, they know that they are meeting with a leader in surgical weight loss. At his weight loss surgery practice in Tijuana, he offers safe, affordable, state-of-the-art bariatric surgery that helps people get healthy and put their lives back in order.

Many patients wonder if bariatric surgery is right for them, and they commonly turn to their body mass index (BMI) is an indicator. Let's look at the BMI and why it's useful in determining candidacy for surgery.

What Is Body Mass Index (BMI)?

Body mass index (BMI) refers to a ratio of a person's weight and height. This number arrived at will yield a certain range that considers height and weight and how that relates to overall body mass.

This number is not always an accurate assessment of obesity or health since numerous factors are involved. For instance, a body builder may be considered obese simply because the BMI will not take into account muscle vs. fat and other factors. That said, for the vast majority of people, the BMI offers a reliable range for height and weight with regard to fitness and relative unhealthiness.

BMI Numbers and Classifications

There are different ranges and classifications based on the BMI number. These classifications are as follows:

  • Underweight – BMI less than 18.5
  • Normal Weight – BMI 18.5-24.9
  • Overweight – BMI 25.0-29.9
  • Obesity (Class 1) – BMI 30.0-34.9
  • Severe Obesity (Class 2) – BMI 35.0-39.9
  • Morbid Obesity (Class 3) – BMI 40.0-49.9
  • Superobesity/Extreme Obesity – BMI greater than 50.0

While we noted above that there are anomalies with regard to weight, health, and BMI, people with BMIs of 30 or greater are more likely to suffer from severe health problems that are related to obesity, including hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, joint pain, sleep apnea, and so forth.

Breaking Down the Numbers

As we break down the numbers and their classifications, we can see some serious issues for people as they get higher up in BMI.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) provides the following population breakdown percentages via BMI for American adults age 20 or older:

  • 31.2 percent are of normal weight or underweight (BMI 24.9 or lower)
  • 33.1 percent are overweight (BMI 25.0 to 29.9)
  • 35.7 percent are obese (BMI 30.0 or greater)
  • 6.3 percent suffer from morbid obesity or extreme obesity (BMI 40.0 or greater)

As you may have noticed, a significant number of the adult population is either obese or suffering from extreme obesity.

Is Weight Loss Surgery Right for Me?

In general, bariatric surgery is an ideal option for people who suffer from obesity and the higher classifications of obesity. Your BMI alone isn't the sole indicator of whether or not you should undergo bariatric surgery. Your general health and wellness will also be taken into account. If you struggle with diabetes, hypertension, or other health issues, weight loss surgery will likely be recommended to help you lose weight quickly and safely and to improve your overall lifestyle.

During a consultation with our team, we will be able to give you the answers you need to make smart choices about bariatric surgery options. Later this month, we'll break down the different classes of obesity on this blog so you have greater information about the health issues you may face.

Contact Dr. Fernando Garcia

For more information on body mass index (BMI) and how this can affect your overall health and wellness, be sure to contact our team of weight loss surgery specialists today. Dr. Fernando Garcia and his team will be here to provide expert advice on your bariatric surgery options.

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Dr. Garcia is awesome. I chose bariatrics vertical sleeve surgery. I've lost 85 lbs. since January 2017. No complications... I regret not doing this years ago. Debbie M.

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