Body Mass Index or BMI and other measures of body fat

Body Mass Index and Body Fat

How to read your BMI score? And other measures of your body weight? BMI or Body Mass Index is an internationally accepted measure of determining whether you are in a healthy weight range, overweight or obese. However, there are additional measures of knowing exact amount of unhealthy body fat. Do not ignore them if you want to lead a healthy life. Read further…

If you would like know how serious the problem of being overweight or obese (fat) can be in India, please read our article here.

If you have already decided to buy a digital scale online in India, please follow the links below from our top suggestions from Amazon India.

These are very good options for keeping track of your weight regularly at home.

Just to recap, what is BMI?

BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It is a world recognised measure of knowing if your body weight is in a healthy range or not. It is defined as the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in metres (kg/m2). For example, an adult who weighs 70kg and whose height is 1.75m (approx.  5 ft 9 inch) will have a BMI of 22.9.

BMI = 70 kg / (1.75 m2) = 70 / 3.06 = 22.9 approx.

At what levels of BMI, will I be considered healthy, overweight or obese?

World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines state that internationally an adult having BMI of 25 or more as overweight. However, acceptable BMI cut-off is lower for India and other Asian countries (Please read below).

A BMI of 30 and above is in any case considered obese worldwide. The National Institute of Health (NIH) of US Dept. of Health has also defined BMI to be the deciding parameter to know how overweight or obese you are . Hence, knowing your BMI is a very important factor for you in maintaining a healthy body and an optimum fitness level.

Classification of adult underweight, overweight and obesity according to BMI range

The International Classification (as per WHO) of adult underweight, overweight and obesity according to BMI values is as follows:

BMI chart as per WHO, Acceptable cut-off of BMI
BMI Chart (as per WHO guidelines) by

What are the other factors associated with BMI?  

As per WHO, BMI values are age-independent and the same for both sexes for adults. Please note that these values are not applicable for children.

However, BMI is not equivalent to similar level of fatness in different races or ethnic groups or cultures. This is on account of people in different regions having different body types and proportions. The health risks higher BMI can be different for populations.

Internationally, a BMI over 25 kg/m2 is considered overweight. However, WHO in its earlier expert studies determined that BMI of over 23 is associated with diabetes and heart diseases for Asians.

And why is acceptable BMI lower for India and other Asian countries?

Indians and Asians have a genetic tendency towards abdominal obesity, which is associated with higher risk of related lifestyle diseases such as Diabetes & Heart Diseases. A doctor’s body in India (JAPI) too has accepted cut off of 23 kg/m2, above which an adult Indian is considered overweight.

A healthy BMI can also help you away from diseases like heart problems, Type 2 diabetes and Hypertension or High Blood Pressure.

Read our post on Diabetes problem in India and what you can do. 

Read here our article on High Blood Pressure or Hypertension. 

What are the things you have to keep in mind while reading your BMI score?

BMI gives measure of overweight and thereby indicates broadly extent of fat in your body. It however does not give exact amount of fat in the body.

For example, if you are an athlete or an overall active person, your body weight may be on a higher side. This is not because of fat but because of muscle, which is much denser and heavier than fat.  Such athletic persons can have higher BMI and still be healthy. It is not unhealthy because it doesn’t have the associated health risks which a high BMI reading carries.

Similarly, even if you are in healthy BMI range, but you may have skin folds or belly fat, then it can be unhealthy. This kind of fat is linked to diseases.

Personal Digital Weighing Scales on Amazon India 

What are the other measures of determining body fat?

Recent guidelines for measuring fitness take into account body’s fat percentage. Experts suggest 25% and lower fat for women and 28% or lower fat proportion for men.

There are many ways to measure body fat. These include waist circumference & waist-to-hip ratio, doing a full body scan and using callipers (kind of scale) to measure skin folds in the body.

These measures are  especially important for Indians who are susceptible to central obesity, or belly fat. Some of these measurements can be done at home, while you can get a body scan done in a wellness clinic specialising in weight management.

How do we measure Waist to Hip Ratio or WHR ?

Waist to Hip ratio or WHR is an additional measure of how much fat is stored in your waist, hips and buttocks, the usual storage places !

You can use a home tape to measure smallest area of waist, just above your navel to get waist circumference. Then take the measurement of largest or widest part of your buttocks to know the hip circumference. WHR is calculated as waist circumference divided by hip circumference.

World Health Organization (WHO) says that you have a healthy WHR if it is:

 >> 0.90 or lower for male

>> 0.85 or lower for female

This means that even if your BMI is within healthy range, but WHR is outside the normal range, your risk for disease is higher. A WHR of 1.0 or higher is associated with higher risk for diabetes, heart disease and other such conditions.

How often should you measure your weight?

You can do this once weekly or fortnightly basis. However you can measure more regularly if you are on a weight reduction diet and/ or exercise routine.

The trick is to remain in a healthy range. But this requires (1) regular task of measuring your body weight and (2) maintaining a disciplined exercise routine and (3) consistent and controlled food intake .

Which scale is better for measuring body weight : digital or mechanical scale?

There are two types of scales: Analog (also sometimes called “mechanical” scales) and digital or electronic scales.

Analog scales are old time mechanical scales. These scales work on spring mechanism and have a tendency to wear and tear quickly. This can result in wrong estimates after some use. Also, readings on this scale can be difficult due to the awkward angle in which the pointer moves on the dial.

Digital scales on the other hand come in very good design and styles. These scales have better accuracy levels and are easier to read. These are quite consistent and give same reading even if you do it 3 times in a row. These scale work on the principle of strain gauge and hence are more durable.

Some digital scales come with additional features of storing weight history and can also sync data to your phone or PC as well.

Shop online for digital weighing scale today!

We have selected top digital weighing bathroom scale (which usually can measure up to 150-180 Kgs). We have looked at design, build quality, company / brand and product / user reviews while selecting the following products. 

In addition,we find Omron products to be of good quality and this brand has a wide range of weighing scales in different styles and colours –> See all Omron digital weighing scales on Amazon India


Though Body Mass Index is an internationally accepted and most popular measure of excessive body weight, there are other ways of knowing exact amount of unhealthy body fat. Besides measuring body weight with a digital scale, you can look at other measures of knowing the amount of fat you have.

Wishing you a healthy and fit body … and life !

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