Body Mass Index vs. Waist Hip Quotient vs. Body Fat Percentage

The Body Mass Index (BMI) has recently come under increasing criticism. The main argument is that it doesn’t, for example, determine whether a person is a strength athlete (then a high body mass index is normal) or a marathon runner (then a low body mass index would be normal).

Even the body fat percentage of a person is not recorded by the body mass index. But that is not the task of the body mass index. In principle, a single measured value should not be used as the sole basis for health questions. The body mass index in combination with the waist-hip ratio and the body fat percentage gives a much more specific picture of a person’s constitution.

With these 3 values also the strength athlete and the marathon runner are recorded. However, in case of health problems, it is always best to consult a doctor.

Use and Application of the Body Mass Index


The body mass index provide information about the overweight, normal weight or underweight of normally trained people. It was developed by the Belgian astronomer and statistician Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quételet (* 22 February 1796 in Ghent; † 17 February 1874 in Brussels).

The body mass index for adults is calculated by dividing the body weight [kg] by the square of the body size [m2]. The formula is:

BMI = body weight / (body height in m ^ 2)

The unit of the body mass index is, therefore, kg/m2. The risk of overweight among people in our industrial nations is increasing at a rapid pace. The benefit of the Body Mass Index is to point out and warn of possible overweight. The weight, age, height and gender of each individual is taken into account.

Determination of Body Mass Index in Children and Adolescents


The constant observation of weight is particularly important in children and adolescents. More and more people tend to become overweight at an early age, which can have a negative effect on the development of the entire organism.

Girls, in particular, often fall into the other extreme: anorexia is fashionable among many. Models in the media as well as series and advertisements, which (not only) suggest a false ideal of beauty to the girls, are usually role models.

In an effort to emulate this current trend, nutritional disorders can develop that quickly get out of control. The benefit of BMI here is to point out and warn of possible underweight.

Boundaries of the Body Mass Index


The Body-Mass-Index is a good means to determine the body mass of an average human being. Its sole expressiveness can be deceiving because the Body-Mass-Index does not cover any special features like bodybuilders and marathon runners. Therefore, the body mass index should be seen in conjunction with the abdominal girth or waist-hip ratio (THQ). This distinguishes the “Couch-Potatoe” from the hard training strength athlete.

If you now add a body fat measurement to determine your body fat percentage (KFA), you already have a very reliable evaluation of your body. Especially since you can compare these values again and again to document your training progress.

The Body-Mass-Index, the THQ and the determination of the KFA together result in a quite good picture of your body structure.

Body fat table Women


Age Excellent Good medium Increased
20 – 24 years 18.9 22.1 25.0 29.6
25 – 29 years 18.9 22.0 25.4 29.8
30 – 34 years 19.7 22.7 26.4 30.5
35 – 39 years 21.0 24.0 27.7 31.5
40 – 44 years 22.6 25.6 29.3 32.8
45 – 49 years 24.3 27.3 30.9 34.1
50 – 59 years 26.6 29.7 33.1 36.2
60 years 27.4 30.7 34.0 37.3

Body fat table Men


Age Excellent Good medium Increased
20 – 24 years 10.8 14.9 19.0 23.3
25 – 29 years 12.8 16.5 20.3 24.3
30 – 34 years 14.5 18.0 21.5 25.2
35 – 39 years 16.1 19.3 22.6 26.1
40 – 44 years 17.5 20.5 23.6 26.9
45 – 49 years 18.6 21.5 24.5 27.6
50 – 59 years 19.8 22.7 25.6 28.7
60 years 20.2 23.3 26.2 29.3

The body mass index is definitely useful for a general classification, because weight is the most important factor for health and is therefore examined from several angles.

This post is also available in: German

William C. Hilberg
As an author, Mr. Hilberg has published several papers on health issues that have gained international recognition. He is close to nature and loves the seclusion and activity as a freelance journalist. In his function as editor William C. Hilberg manages the entire content of PENP. Our team greatly appreciates his expertise and is proud to have him on board.