Global Body Mass Index

The body mass index is defined as the body mass divided by the square of the body. It’s normally expressed in units of kg/m³, resulting from mass in kilograms and height in metres. Therefore, the BMI is an indicator for a normal weighting civilization. In our globalized world adiposity causes a lot of deaths and seriously sickness to our bodies. As you can see on the map most of the people in Africa and South-East-Asia have a normal bodyweight (by the BMI).

“BMI values are age-independent and the same for both sexes. However, BMI may not correspond to the same degree of fatness in different populations due, in part, to different body proportions. The health risks associated with increasing BMI are continuous and the interpretation of BMI gradings in relation to risk may differ for different populations.

In recent years, there was a growing debate on whether there are possible needs for developing different BMI cut-off points for different ethnic groups due to the increasing evidence that the associations between BMI, percentage of body fat, and body fat distribution differ across populations and therefore, the health risks increase below the cut-off point of 25 kg/m2 that defines overweight in the current WHO classification” (World Health Organization).

Table 1 shows the official BMI classifications by the WHO:

Classification BMI (kg/m²)
Underweight < 18.50
Normal weight ≥ 18.50
Overweight ≥ 25.00
Obese ≥ 30.00


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