Body Mass Index (BMI): Do You Need To Go On A Diet?

The media today is filled with images of skinny, beautiful women and muscular, handsome men, which can often leave the average person wondering where exactly they fit on the scale of attractiveness. While an individual's features and style certainly contributes to his or her appearance, weight has also become a major factor in determining who is attractive and who is not.

By now most people have heard criticisms about the media and Barbie Dolls and bulimic runway models, and most people know, in theory, that these depictions of women and men are false, or at least not the norm; but does this knowledge really matter? We are still bombarded with these images regardless of their accuracy and when someone wants to look attractive, they will turn to what they know and see for a definition of what that means.

Can you be too skinny?

Unfortunately, what most people don't know, or don't acknowledge, is that being too skinny can be just as dangerous as being too fat. If you're too skinny you can be at risk for bone fractures and breaks, deformed spines, and "widow's bumps” or "hunchbacks.” Hence, it's important to find a balance between the two and a healthy weight for your size. While a 5'4” woman who weighs 160 is considered overweight, a 6'4” man who weighs the same is dangerously close o being underweight.

How can I find out if I really need to diet to lose weight?

While the best way to determine whether you need to diet or not is to visit your doctor or dietitian, you can also do a self assessment of your condition by determining your Body Mass Index (BMI). You can easily calculate your BMI by using our BMI Calculator or using our BMI Chart .

If your results are between 18.5 and 24.9 then you are healthy. You should consider dieting if your outcome is between 25.0 and 29.9 because those numbers indicate that you are overweight. You are considered obese if your resulting number is greater than 30.0 and should start a diet and/or exercise program immediately.

The BMI is an excellent tool to determine whether you are at a healthy weight, but it is not infallible. The BMI does not take muscle into consideration and therefore assumes that any excess weight is due to fat. Thus, if you are a muscular, athletic person, a pregnant woman, or under the age of 18, your BMI reading may not be accurate.

Nevertheless, you probably have a general idea about how healthy you are as an individual and about whether a diet would be appropriate for you or not. Compare your personal assessment against that of your BMI calculations to determine what your next course of action should be. Then, if you feel a diet is the right choice, read through information on each diet that you're considering to decide which program you would be most willing to follow and what will likely work best for you.