According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, calculating body mass index (BMI) is one of three steps in determining an ideal weight. Page ContentBecause it's a measure of weight relative to height, BMI is a reliable indicator of body fat for both men and women more than 20 years old; however, it may not be entirely accurate for athletes or those who have lost muscle mass, for instance, older people. The higher your BMI, the higher your risk is for health conditions, says Patrick Carter, MD, Chief of Family Medicine at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. These may include:DiabetesHigh Blood PressureCardiovascular DiseaseOsteoarthritisCancerWaist CircumferenceWaist circumference, which can be measured by wrapping a measuring tape firmly around your waist, is a good indicator of abdominal fat. Men should target a waist circumference less than 40 inches, and women should aim for less than 35 inches. Waist circumferences that exceed these guidelines can put one at risk for cardiovascular disease.Risk FactorsTo determine your risk for complications related to obesity, you will want to pay attention to the following risk factors:Physical inactivitySmokingFamily history of cardiovascular diseaseHigh blood pressureHigh LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol)Low HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol)High triglyceridesHigh blood sugar More InformationA physician or nutritionist is the best source for learning about your ideal weight, reaching it or maintaining it. To schedule an appointment with a Kelsey-Seybold doctor or nutritionist, call the 24/7 Contact Center at (713) 442-0427.