Killing time at the hairdresser’s the other day, I started to flick through a Japanese women’s magazine. “Their world changed after they lost weight!” declared one article, depicting “before” and “after” pictures of six readers, along with each woman’s height and weight. I whipped out my cellphone and pulled up the website for BMI calculation.

BMI (body mass index) is one commonly used method to check whether adults have a healthy weight for their height. A figure of 18.5 to 25 is generally considered to be in the “healthy range.” Medical experts warn that BMI has its limitations — for example, those who have a lot of muscle may seem “overweight” since muscle weighs more than fat.

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