DQYDJ Logo

BMI Percentile Calculator: Body Mass Indexes in the United States

Written by:
PK

On this page is a BMI percentile calculator for adults 18 and older in the United States.

BMI is a formula based on height and weight which estimates whether a person is in a healthy range. To calculate body mass index for you or someone else, use our BMI Calculator.

BMI Percentile Calculator for the United States

Data comes from 5,662 adults with valid BMIs in the 2015-16 NHANES survey from the CDC. Heights and weights were measured at a mobile examination center.

Median and Average BMI in the United States

In 2016, the United States adult average BMI was 29.3. The United States adult median BMI was 28.2.

Here are the BMI breakpoints for selected percentiles:

US Adult BMI PercentileBMI
523.0
2023.4
3025.1
4026.7
5028.2
6029.8
7031.8
8034.3
9038.4
9542.6

Non-Healthy and Healthy BMIs in the United States

The CDC categorizes BMI in one of four ways for adults:

  • < 18.5 Underweight
  • 18.5 – 25 Healthy Weight
  • 25 – 30 Overweight
  • 30 and up Obese

Using these breakdowns, here's the breakdown of the number of American adults in each category:

American Adults by BMI CategoryEstimated AmericansPercentage
Underweight3,758,9441.56%
Healthy Weight65,988,67927.45%
Overweight75,950,84931.59%
Obese94,716,17539.40%
Total American Adults240,414,647100.00%

American BMI Distributions

First: nothing on this site – including calculated BMI and category – is medical advice!

BMI comes from a simple equation feeding a complex topic. BMI is an element of the communication between you and a professional such as a doctor, nutritionist, or trainer. Always consult a professional on medical topics.

BMI Percentile can fail to convey nuance, like athleticism.
BMI ranges can be incorrect, especially for athletes.

Remember, BMI is not a measure of body fat, nor is it strictly a measure of "Health". Even though there are guidelines presented by government agencies, it's only an equation based on weight and total mass.

Of important note: BMI ignores body composition. BMI misclassifications include athletes incorrectly classified as overweight as well as individuals with low muscle mass classified as underweight or healthy weight.

Is BMI a Useful Health Indicator?

BMI, while useful for many individuals (and the start of a health conversation), is very useful for population summaries like this one. While there are huge individual variations in body composition, it's easier to generalize compositions for a large population.

In short: people vary in their dieting and exercise habits. For example, your author has a BMI of 25.9 and isn't worried about his classification.

We'll try to characterize how often BMI disagrees with other measures (such as body fat percentage) in a future post.

How did the American adult BMI distribution strike you? About where you expected or were there any surprises in the distribution?

Don't Quit Your Day Job...

DQYDJ may be compensated by our advertising and affiliate partners if you make purchases through links. See our disclosures page for more information.
Sign Up For Emails
© 2009-2020 dqydj.com
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram