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What your BMI says about your health

Learn what this tool can do.

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Like cholesterol and blood pressure, body mass index (BMI) is a screening tool in your doctor’s toolkit. It’s a fast and simple way to check your overall health.  You can even do it at home. (See link to the online calculator below). 

But what does your BMI tell you and your doctor about your chances of getting sick?  BMI is a way to measure body fat by using a person's height and weight. Here’s what the numbers mean for adults. According to the CDC, if your BMI is:

  • Under 18.5, you're underweight
  • 18.5–25, you're normal
  • 25–30, you are overweight
  • Over 30, you're obese

Here’s why your BMI may matter

In general, the higher your BMI, the higher your chances of having problems linked to being overweight. They include:

  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Liver disease
  • Several types of cancer (such as breast, colon and prostate)
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Sleep apnea

Nearly 3 million people die each year worldwide because they are overweight or obese. Those who are obese have higher chances of having other medical problems besides those listed above.

And here’s why BMI may not matter

BMI does not measure your overall health. It is simply a measure of your size. 

Plenty of people have a high or low BMI and are healthy. And there are plenty of people with a normal BMI who are unhealthy. 

Just like high cholesterol or high blood pressure, BMI is only a single measure. It's not expected to tell you if you have heart disease. And it’s clearly not a perfect measure of overall health. But it’s still a good starting point.

Learn your BMI

Interested in checking your BMI? You can find an online calculator on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) website. It's easy to use. Just enter your height and weight.

Find calculator

Will Medicare cover an Annual Wellness Visit?

Original Medicare covers the Annual Wellness Visit at 100% of the Medicare-approved amount when you get the service from a provider who accepts Medicare. You pay nothing (no deductible or coinsurance).

Medicare Advantage plans must cover Annual Wellness Visits without applying deductibles, copays, or coinsurance when you see a network provider and meet Medicare’s rules for the service.

Schedule your Annual Wellness Visit

Talk to your doctor about needed tests.


  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • The World Health Organization
  • The National Institutes of Health

The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.