Thursday, 9 February 2012

How to tell if you are Overweight or Obese

Many of us are aware we may be carrying a few extra pounds and could do with losing a few. But how do you know when overweight becomes obese? Rather than using those around us to gauge what constitutes overweight or not, there are more reliable ways to work out whether you are overweight or obese.

1. Work out your Body Mass Index (BMI) 

The BMI is used as an indicator of whether you are a healthy weight for your height. Working out your body mass index is the simplest method of learning whether or not you are obese. There are a number of ways to do this, but before you start, you’ll need to know your current weight and height.

Method a. Use an Online Calculator
There are hundreds, if not thousands of online BMI calculators to choose from. This calculator from the CDC enables you to use either metric or imperial figures.

Method b. Refer to at a BMI Chart 
This chart from the British Heart Foundation is clear to follow and provides helpful advice. And if you hope to avoid the obesity label, this is the place to go as ‘obese’ doesn’t exist. Instead, obese is classed as ‘very overweight’ instead!

Method c. Use Pen and Paper (and calculator)
Using a good old pen, paper and a calculator will also provide you with your BMI. Choose one of the two formula shown below - imperial or metric:

Imperial Calculation: (weight in pounds x 703) / (height in inches (squared))
Example:  Weight = 125 pounds, height = 65 inches
                  BMI = (125 x 703) / (65 x 65) = 20.8

Metric Calculation: (weight in kilograms) / (height in metres (squared))
Example: Weight = 57 kilos, height = 1.65m
                 BMI = (57) / (1.65 x 1.65) = 20.9

Once you’ve worked out your BMI you can see which category you belong.

What it Means
18.5 or below
You may be lacking energy and nutrients
Healthy weight
Ensure your diet is balanced and nutritious
Your health may benefit by losing weight
Obese (class 1)
Your health may be at risk
Obese (class 2)
Your health is at risk
40 or higher
Obese (class 2)
Your health is at serious risk

Since the BMI isn’t 100 percent reliable for everyone, there are other methods for working out whether you are obese or overweight.

2. Work Out Your Body Fat Percentage 

This is another useful method which is often used alone, or in conjunction with the BMI to work out whether you may be overweight or obese. Your doctor or health practitioner can do this using a device such as a fat calliper. This is used to measure skinfolds in order to calculate how much fat is underneath the skin. From this, a body fat percentage is calculated.

You can also use a body fat monitor or a body composition monitor (see post). These can provide a variety of measurements in addition to body fat percentage. Body fat monitors calculate your body fat percentage by passing a harmless electrical current through your body.

They're able to distinguish between areas of muscle and fat, something which the BMI cannot do. Your doctor may have one of these monitors or you can buy one for use in the privacy of your home. Take a look at some of the recommended body fat monitors shown in this post.

3. Work out your Waist to Hip Ratio 

This is another useful way of working out whether you are overweight or obese. Simply observing your general overall shape in the mirror can give you an idea. For example, if you are an ‘apple’ shape with more of your body fat accumulated around your middle rather than hips and thighs.

But for a greater indicator, measure your waist. For men, anything more than 40 inches and for women, a waist measurement of 35 inches indicates a weight problem and you may face greater health risks.

You can also work out your waist to hip ratio using an online calculator. First of all, measure your hip circumference at its widest part, then measure your Waist Circumference at the belly button or just above it. Enter the numbers into the calculator and you will be given a ratio and invited to click a link to see what it means for you.

Obesity poses a huge threat to health. Therefore, if you do find out you are in an obese category, it’s vital to seek advice from your doctor or health practitioner as soon as possible. Even if you have no adverse symptoms right now, by making dietary changes sooner rather than later, it is possible to greatly reduce your health risks.

 © Diets and Calories 


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