Saturday, March 27, 2010

How to Know if You’re Overweight

There are people out there that are obviously obese, but our perception of a what healthy weight looks like may be a bit off. If we look around and feel we are about the same size as everyone else we consider ourselves to be normal and not think much more about it. But, what if everyone we compare ourselves to is overweight? One-third of the adults in the United States are obese, so by comparison we may think ourselves to be quite thin. Actually, researchers estimate that 67 percent of adults are overweight. That means only 33 percent of adults are at a healthy weight!

To determine if you are overweight, calculate your body mass index, commonly referred to as your BMI. BMI is a measure of body fat using your height and weight and it works the same for both men and women alike. Your BMI is calculated by taking your current weight in kilograms and then dividing that number by your current height in meters squared. Don’t worry about converting your stats or doing the math yourself - there are online calculators available, so all you have to do is enter your weight in pounds and height in feet and inches. A simple search online for “BMI Calculator” will yield several results.

If your BMI number is 18.5 to 24.9 you have what is considered to be a normal BMI and are not overweight or obese. If your BMI number is 25 to 29.9 then you are classified as being overweight but not yet obese. Finally, any BMI number that is 30 or greater is classified as obese. Obviously, the higher the number is over 30, the more obese you are and thus the more susceptible you are to health risks and other related issues. There a few limitations to the BMI calculations. For athletes or others who have muscular build, the BMI may overestimate body fat. Conversely, in older persons or those who has lost muscle mass, the BMI may underestimate body fat.

With roughly sixty-seven percent of Americans with BMIs over 25, statistically there is a two in three chance you will find yourself overweight. You may be surprised to find yourself close to the cut off 29.9 for obesity. Regardless of where you fall on the scale, it’s good to know where you stand and what action needs to be taken.

There’s a wide array of health problems associated with being overweight and obese including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even cancer. Another common way to determine weight related health risks is measuring abdominal fat. This measurement is taken simply by placing a measuring tape snugly around your waist and measuring the circumference. High numbers, over 40 inches for men and over 35 inches for women, increase the risk factors several health problems, most notably heart disease.

If you find yourself in a high risk category, lowering your BMI score and waist circumference will have a positive effect on your health and attitude, which in turn can benefit those around you. Small changes in your lifestyle can lower your current weight. There are several resources out there to help you in your quest to achieve lasting results so you never wonder if you are overweight again.

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