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Understanding Your BMI Number

Understanding the BMI Chart Number

Once a person has determined their BMI using the BMI chart, the next step is to interpret the results. Interpreting the BMI results differs for adults and children (those people under the age of 20).
For adults 20 years old and older, the BMI chart results are interpreted using standard weight status categories that are the same for both men and women. The standard weight status categories associated with BMI ranges for adults are shown below:
Weight Status
Below 18.5
18.5 – 24.9
25.0 – 29.9
30.0 and Above
For children and teens, after determining the BMI, the BMI number is plotted on the BMI-for-age growth charts (for either girls or boys) to obtain a percentile ranking. The percentile indicates the relative position of the child's BMI number among children of the same sex and age.
BMI-for-age weight status categories and the corresponding percentiles are shown in the following table.
Weight Status Category
Percentile Range
Less than the 5th percentile
Healthy weight
5th percentile up to the 84th percentile
At risk of overweight
85th to less than the 95th percentile
Equal to or greater than the 95th percentile
(Click BMI and Weight for more information on factors besides BMI that healthcare providers consider when determining risk for certain medical conditions related to weight.)
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