# The standard body mass index cutoff points for overweight adults

### Comments and average body mass index for men, for women, and BMI cut off points for overweight and obesity

This is the publication that banished the old BMI criteria, and established new Body Mass Index criteria, for the definitions of overweight and Obesity at 25 and 30 kg/m2 respectively.

It was NEW in year 2000 when I first made this review page. But in 2014 when I’m updating the styling, it is the OLD standard.

So, anything saying New, is actually Old.

This article mentions the older BMI criteria1,2,3 which were: overweight definition was BMI of >=27.8 for men and >=27.3 for women. They were based on the 85th percentile values of persons age 20 to 29 years.

And if I wrote “Old” on the original review, now it is OLD OLD.

So, using the new definition of BMI >=25 results in 59.4% of men and 50.7% of women are defined as being overweight. If you used the old definition, only 33.3% of men and 36.4% of women would be defined as overweight. All data in this article came from the NHANES III study4 (1988-1994).

The median height of men was 175.5cm ( 69.1 inches) and the median height of women was 161.6cm (63.6 inches).

Pause a second. The average height for men is 5 foot 9 inches tall.

And the average height for women is 5 foot 4 inches tall.

You’re deliberately saying weird stuff, why?

The median weight of men was 80.0kg ( 176.0 lbs) and the median weight of women was 65.6kg ( 144.3 lbs).

The average weight for men is 176 pounds.

The average weight for women is 144 pounds.

They are doing it for people searching, to easily find it. But remember those are OLD values from a study in 1988-1994. People are heavier now.

And a wee bit taller too.

Median is the 50th percentile, which is very close to meaning the "average", for Americans. Median is a better statistic to use, when discussing average weight.

I see you put those median “average” values of height and weight for men and women into a table.

 Men Women age mean height median height mean weight median weight mean height median height mean weight median weight 20 to 29 175.6 175.8 78.4 75.3 162.7 162.6 64.4 60.5 30 to 59 176.3 176.3 84.3 81.9 162.8 162.8 71.6 68.0 60 + yrs 172.8 172.9 80.2 79.3 158.5 158.5 67.9 65.8 All ages 175.6 175.5 82.1 80.0 161.7 161.6 69.2 65.6

And here is the data for mean and median Body Mass Index (BMI) in kg/m2, of Americans during 1988 to 1994.

 Men Women age mean BMI median BMI mean BMI median BMI 20 to 29 25.2 24.4 24.3 22.8 30 to 59 27.1 26.3 27.0 25.5 60 + yrs 26.8 26.4 26.9 26.1 All ages 26.6 25.9 26.5 25.1

Here we go again. Acting like robots.

The average BMI for men was about 26.

The average BMI for women was about 25.

I’m glad you said WAS. That’s OLD data now. If you are a student writing an essay or something, don’t quote that old data.

The rest of this article, discussed several alternative BMI cutoff schemes. The authors are careful to try to point out that there is no consensus on the terminology about overweight or obesity, nor do they specifically suggest that their cutoffs are superior. Nevertheless, despite this humble tone in their article, their criteria ended up cited as the new standard.

Notice that? Just because NHANES is the big government survey, and because Dr. Kuczmarski et al were the big name Principal Researchers, everyone began quoting this study as the official justification to use BMI of 25 as the cutoff for overweight.

That’s how things tend to happen.

References

1. National Center for Health Statistics. Plan and operation of the Third National Health and Nutrition Survey, 1988-1994. Vital Health Statistics, 1994; 1:32.
2. National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Panel. Health Implications of obesity: National Institutes of Health consensus conference statement. Ann Intern Med. 1985: 103:1073-1077.
3. US Department of Health and Human Services, PHS. Healthy People 2000: National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectis. DHHS Publication No. PHS-90-50212. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, Public Health Service; 1990;112-134.
4. NHANES III. National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States. 1995. Hyattsville, MD, Public Health Service, 1996.

I found this study, using more uptodate NHANES data, and it compared to previous NHANES datasets. Here are the charts of average Body Mass Index, changing very slightly over the years.[/chat]

Reference

1. Flegal KM, Carrol MD, Kit BK, Ogden CL. Prevalence of obesity and trends in the distribution of body mass index among US adults, 1999-2010. JAMA 2012; 307:49107.

It’s still hard to read charts.

I don’t even try.

It says, the average Body Mass Index for men was 28.7, and the average Body Mass Index for women was also 28.7, in the 2009-2010 survey data. That would include All Ages mixed together.

Remember, Body mass index increases with age, from about 25 at age 18, to about 27 or 28 at age 50.

I also don’t like seeing, that these researchers are still using BMI of 25 as the cutoff to define Overweight, and BMI of 30 to define the cutoff for obesity. Let me give you a justification. “Overweight” is a word with a meaning of unhealthy or disease, and “obesity” is a word that sounds very ugly and unhealthy. But it turns out that having a BMI of 25 to 30 IS THE MOST HEALTHY for people over age 50, and the average BMI is the healthiest. So we MUST stop calling our healthiest, longest-surviving people, as being overweight. Please see this article: Body mass index associations with obesity and mortality.

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