The body mass index is a reliable way to determine if someone is overweight or not. A strong correlation exists between total body fat and BMI, but variations between individuals need to be taken into consideration.

Muscular athletes may be classified as overweight because of their extra muscle, not their fat. Elderly people usually have lower bone density and may weigh less than younger people of the same height and body composition.

Differences in frame size can account for body mass variations. Ideal body weights for men and women are set for medium framed people. With women, for example, you take the ideal weight for a woman of the same height and subtract 15% to find the ideal weight for a smaller framed woman, and add 15% for a woman with a larger frame.

Click here to view a BMI chart and determine your own BMI.