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Advice About Obesity (Excess Body Fat) According to Body Mass Index - Overweight & Normal Weight

Obesity and Overweight Information

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Obesity and Overweight

What is Obesity?

"Overweight" is defined as an excess amount of body weight, including muscle and bone as well as body fat. "Obesity" is defined as an excess amount of body fat.

Seriously Overweight May Not Mean Obesity

Although most people WILL be obese if they are seriously overweight, there are exceptions. For instance, the body weight of muscular athletes is likely to exceed normal weight levels considerably. But the amount of body fat they have may be less than normal. So while they are overweight, they won't be obese.

Obesity and Health

A "healthy weight" is simply a weight RANGE that is statistically related to good health. To say someone is overweight or obese means that their weight falls into a weight category that is associated with higher risk of (e.g.) heart disease and hypertension.

Obesity and Healthy Weight

Doctors and health care experts assess healthy weight in three ways.

  • By reference to the Body Mass Index (BMI)
    The BMI formula is: Weight (pounds) x 704.5 divided by Height (inches) squared.
    A BMI of less than 19 is underweight.
    A BMI of 19-24.9 denotes normal weight.
    A BMI of 25-29.9 is overweight.
    A BMI of 30+ denotes obesity.
  • By measuring waist size
    Women: Waist size of 35"+ together with BMI of 25+ denotes unhealthy weight.
    Men: Waist size of 40"+ together with BMI of 25+ denotes unhealthy weight.
  • By examining other weight related risk factors
    These include:
    - Fat distribution
    - High blood pressure
    - High cholesterol
    - High blood sugar
    - Arthritis in knees/hips
    - Breathing problems
    - Family history of obesity/ weight related disease
    - Poor lifestyle - smoking, bad eating habits, lack of exercise

Obesity Chart

Use this chart to see the approx point at which you become obese for your height.

Height (feet)

Obesity point

Height (Feet)

Obesity point

4' 10"

143 pounds

5' 6"

186 pounds

4' 11"

148 pounds

5' 7"

191 pounds

5' 0"

153 pounds

5' 8"

197 pounds

5' 1 "

158 pounds

5' 9"

203 pounds

5' 2"

164 pounds

5' 10"

209 pounds

5' 3"

169 pounds

5' 11"

215 pounds

5' 4"

174 pounds

6' 0"

221 pounds

5' 5"

180 pounds

6' 1"

227 pounds

Obesity Chart Readings

If you are close to the obesity point for your height, you should definitely consider losing weight, especially if your weight is on the rise. As a first step, please consult your doctor. 

Fat Acceptance versus Obesity and Ill-Health

Being seriously overweight is not a crime, a sin, or a sign of social inferiority. It is a physical condition which carries a number of health risks. You are strongly advised not to accept these risks and instead to consult your doctor.

Consequences of Obesity

In general, the more you exceed your obesity point, the greater the health risk. In addition, the higher your proportion of fat to muscle, the greater the risk.

Waist to Hip Ratio and Fat Distribution

If you divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement you can find out your waist-to-hip ratio. If it is over 0.8 in a woman or 0.95 in a man there is a higher risk of weight-related health problems due to unhealthy fat distribution.

Fat Distribution, Intra-Abdominal Fat and Obesity

Recent evidence suggests that WHERE you carry body fat is almost as important as HOW MUCH fat you have. If you are obese and carry excess fat around your middle (intra-abdominal fat), your risk of ill-health is significantly greater than if this fat was on your lower half.

Obesity and Health Problems

Being obese significantly increases your risk of the following:

  • Higher blood pressure

  • Hardening of the arteries

  • Heart attacks

  • Varicose veins

  • Strokes

  • Stomach problems

  • Gall bladder problems

  • Colon cancer

  • Hemorrhoids

  • Bladder problems

  • Kidney stones

  • Prostate cancer

  • Movement problems

  • Bone & joint problems

  • Psychological problems

Causes of Obesity

What causes obesity is not yet fully understood. Hereditary factors (especially on the mother's side), hormones, domestic environment, eating habits and general lifestyle all play a part. See also Causes of Obesity

Solutions for Obesity

Advances in genetic research may yet provide a new generation of drugs to combat obesity. Bariatric gastrointestinal surgery also has a part to play. However, it is most unlikely that drugs or surgery alone will solve the problem. For the foreseeable future, healthy diet and exercise will continue to be an essential part of any treatment program.

A Practical Approach to Obesity

1. Be positive
You can't change your genetic makeup, or your hormones. But you can change what you eat and how active you are. Many people with severe obesity have transformed themselves by making sensible eating and exercise a priority. You may be obese today, but you don't have to stay obese.

2. Seek help
Your first step is to seek professional help. Consult your doctor and ask him/her to recommend a suitable program and/or support group. Enlist the help of family and friends. Remember: no matter how good the program, having a supportive person in the background will always improve your chances of success.

3. Learn about food
The less you know about food, the more difficult it is for you to eat properly. So make an effort to find out all you can about healthy foods and healthy eating. Don't rely on others to tell you all the answers.  

4. More resources
For more details, please visit the Links page. See also Eating disorders.

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