Different races have different body fat percentages and BMI cutoffs

Meta-analysis Ethic Body Fat percentage by race and body mass index

Key points on body fat percentage by race

This article demonstrated differences in body fat percentages, in different races.

Assuming a constant Body Fat percentage, different races have different Body Mass Index values to achieve the same body fat percentage. The chart shows the results:

BMI differences and body fat percentage by race

So, suppose that White race has a BMI overweight criteria at 25 kg/m2, then this article suggests (indirectly) that these would be suitable overweight criteria for other races:

Race Overweight BMI

Talking Moose Talking Moose
This review is shorter than your usual style.

Dr. Halls Dr. Halls
Sorry about that. You’re right. Back in 2002 when I first made this page, I could have done more.


Update in 2014. Although I disagree strongly with using a BMI of 25 as a cutoff for defining overweight, You could in theory, take the difference from 25, for each race, and apply that difference to make a new race-specific threshold.

For instance, suppose you wanted BMI of 27 in men, as your overweight threshold for white males. For black males, you’d add an extra 1.3, (because, look at the table above, 26.3 minus 25 = 1.3 ), which would give a cutoff of 28.3 BMI for black males.

Tanya Tanya
What about a black woman like me?

Gretchen Gretchen
Nice try Tanya. But you’re white, except for your booty.


I’ve also added this link to a CDC page with a really crappy headline, ideal body mass index. That’s the sort of poor-quality science that keeps getting re-hashed over and over. They didn’t test different normal ranges, they only used the old standard range, and compared it a much bigger overweight+obese range… basically anything over 25. They deliberately let the truly massively obese data mix in, so it would include more people with all the usual obesity-related problems like hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and so on.

A Like would be nice, or Share. For every like, I hear a bell, and smile, and you get wings.


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