Gentlemen’s reserve. Huh?

A glimpse of body mass index percentile charts for men

A chart showing the Body Mass Index of Adult men, at various ages. It’s not something you see every day. So what does it mean? What’s interesting?

Mens BMI chart

Hector Hector
What is the average BMI?

Brittany Brittany
It’s on the chart red line, 50th percentile.

Talking Moose
Talking Moose
And written in a table at the bottom of this page.


Notice the 50th percentile Red line, which indicates the "median" BMI value. Compare it to a BMI of 25, which the CDC defines a &quot Overweight". You’ll see that over 50 percent of American Men have a BMI over 25.

Also notice that Men’s body mass index gradually increases with Age, until after age 50 to 60, when a gradual decline occurs. Each percentile line has a curved shape, even for skinny people at 25th and 10th percentiles. I believe this shows that it is "natural" for some weight gain to occur during adult life.

The chart shows how older children’s (boys) BMI increases up to age 20, (and keeps on increasing after that). This data came from the standard CDC growth charts. There is a gap between the children’s and adults data, because the data sources are different. The adult data (from the NHANES III survey) comes from recent data ( 1988-1994 ) whereas the CDC body-mass-index-for-age charts are derived from a mix of data from new and older sources.

For comparison purposes, this page (below) also shows a Women’s body mass index chart. Do you notice a few differences between men and women? At less than 50th percentile, men have a higher BMI than women, likely because men tend to have more skeletal muscle mass. But after age 30, for the 50th percentiles or higher, women have a higher BMI level at each percentile line.

Womens BMI chart


The table below shows actual numbers for median Body Mass Index of American men.

The “National Average” Median Body Mass Index values for Men:
Age: 20-29 yrs 30-39 yrs 40-49 yrs 50-59 yrs 60-69 yrs
Median BMI:







Surf onward to:

January 29, 2015 update. If you are over age 50, which is still considered fairly young in medical terms, you ought to look at this page, reviewing the scientific proof that having a BMI of 25 to 30 is most healthy, and should not be called overweight.

Below are a bunch of random Q&A on body mass index…

  • How is BMI used? BMI is used as a screening tool to identify possible weight problems for adults. However, body mass index is not a diagnostic tool. To determine if excess weight is a health risk, a healthcare provider would need to perform further assessments. These assements may include skinfold thickness measurements, evaluations of diet, physical activity, family history and other appropriate health screenings.
  • Why use BMI to measure overweight and obesity? Calculating BMI is one of the best methods for population assessment of overweight and obesity. Because the calculation requires only height and weight, it is not costly and it’s simple to use for clinicians and for the general public. The use of BMI allows individuals to compare their own weight status to that of the general population.
  • What are some other ways to measure obesity? Other ways to measure obesity are skinfold thickness measurements, calipers, underwater weighing, bioelectrical impedance, dual-energy x ray absorptiometry (DXA), and isotope dilution. However these methods are not always readily available, they are either expensive or need highly trained personnel.
  • How reliable is BMI as an indicator of body fatness? The correlation between the BMI number and body fatness is fairly strong. However it varies by gender, race, and age. These variations include: At the same BMI, women tend to have more body fat than men. At the same Bmi, older people, on average, tend to have more body fat than younger adults. And highly trained athletes tend to have a high BMI because of increased muscularity rather than increased body fatness.
  • What is considered a healthy BMI? Between 20 and 25.
  • What does your BMI mean? BMI under 18.5 – is considered very underweight and possibly malnourished, 18.5-24.9 – you have a healthy weight range for young and middle-aged adults, 25.0 to 29.9 – you are overweight and over 30, you are considerd obese.
  • What are some exceptions to the rule? BMI does not differentiate between body fat and muscle mass. This means there are some exceptions to the BMI guidelines.
  • What are the health consequences of overweight and obesity for adults? Hypertension, dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and respiratory problems, and some cancers including endometrial, breast, and colon.
  • Is BMI interpreted the same way for children and teens as it is for adults? Yes, but however, the criteria used to interpret the meaning of the BMI number for children and teens are different from those used for adults. For children and teens, BMI age, and gender-specific percentiles are used for two basic reasons: 1) the amount of body fat changes with age, and 2) the amount of body fat differs between boys and girls.

Did you click on any faces or find other surprises?


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