Overweight and obesity are terms for ranges of weight above what’s considered healthy for your height. The terms also identify ranges of weight that have been shown to increase the likelihood of certain diseases and other health problems, states the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Check your Body Mass Index
One way that overweight and obesity ranges are defined is with using weight and height to calculate a number called the body mass index or BMI.
- An adult who has a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight.
- An adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.
- An adult who has a BMI over 35 is considered severely obese.
124 lbs or less
125 lbs to 168 lbs
18.5 to 24.9
169 lbs to 202 lbs
25.0 to 29.9
203 lbs or more
30 or higher
While BMI correlates with the amount of body fat in many people, it doesn’t directly measure body fat. As a result, well-muscled athletes could, on paper, have a BMI that identifies them as overweight even though they do not have excess body fat. However, a look in the mirror will tell you if your weight is from fat or dense muscle.
Other methods of estimating body fat and body fat distribution include measurements of skinfold thickness and waist circumference (see below), waist-to-hip circumference ratios, and even imaging tests such as ultrasound, computed tomography and MRI.
How To Assess Your Personal Health Risks
Your BMI doesn’t just indicate whether you’re overweight or obese. It’s also one way to assess the potential health risks associated with carrying excess pounds. Guidelines from NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommend looking at two other predictors: your waist circumference and whether you have certain disease risk factors.
Waist circumference. Measuring waist circumference is important because abdominal fat is a predictor of risk for obesity-related diseases. If most of your fat is around your waist rather than at your hips, you’re at a higher risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. This risk goes up with a waist size that is greater than 35 inches for women or greater than 40 inches for men. To correctly measure your waist, stand and place a tape measure around your middle, just above your hipbones. Measure your waist just after you breathe out.
Other disease risk factors. The cumulative effects of obesity and other factors put you at great risk for diseases and conditions associated with obesity, such as heart disease and NAFLD. These risk factors are:
- High blood pressure or hypertension
- High LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
- Low HDL (“good”) cholesterol
- High triglycerides
- High blood sugar
- Family history of premature heart disease
- Physical inactivity
- Cigarette smoking
Know that even a small weight loss—between 5 and 10 percent of your current weight—will help lower negative health risks. To get started on a weight loss plan for life that works, go to http://operationshapeup.com