Being overweight or obese is extremely common in the United States. A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that more than 71% of adults in the U.S age 20 and over can be classed as being overweight, and a shocking 39.8% are considered to be obese. These numbers are predicted to rise over the coming decade. Even more concerning is that fact that childhood obesity figures are also rising significantly.
It probably comes as no surprise that being overweight or obese is bad news for your health. In fact, obesity is the leading cause of premature death in the U.S and worldwide. This is largely due to the complex health issues that can arise as a result of carrying excess weight.
How do I know if I am overweight or obese?
The most common way that overweight and obesity are diagnosed is using a calculation that is called the Body Mass Index or BMI for short. Most people have heard of BMI and know that it is a measurement but have very little understanding beyond this. BMI is actually an estimate of a percentage of body fat a person has based on comparing their weight to their height.
Put simply, you can calculate BMI by dividing your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared and multiplying it by a conversion factor of 703.
Some people argue that BMI isn’t all that reliable since it doesn’t take a patient’s build into account. However, there are some other methods of assessing excess body fat, which in some cases may be used to definitively diagnose overweight or obesity. These include:
- Skinfold thickness measurements using calipers
- Underwater weighing
- Isotope dilution
Nevertheless, BMI is considered the standard scale against which a diagnosis of overweight or obesity is made.
What does my BMI mean?
Interpreting your BMI is fairly straightforward as the process uses standard weight categories that are the same for both men and women of all ages and body types. These are as follows:
BMI below 18.5 – Underweight
BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 – Normal/Healthy weight
BMI between 25.0 and 29.9 – Overweight
BMI above 30.0 – Obese
It is important to be aware that BMI is calculated differently in children and teenagers. This is because body fat distributions are fairly different in developing boys and girls.
What are the risks of being overweight or obese?
Studies have found that people who are overweight or obese are at significantly higher risk of developing a wide range of different diseases and health conditions. These include but are not limited to the following:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Gallbladder disease
- Sleep apnea and other sleep disorders
- Chronic inflammation
- Depression and anxiety
- Skin infections and some diseases
- Some cancers, including breast, kidney, liver, gallbladder, endometrial and colon
Many patients who are overweight or obese experience a poor quality of life as they get older and find that their health becomes increasingly more compromised.
Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to take back control of your weight and your health. Bariatric surgeries are just one very popular option amongst patients who do not have the time or willpower for conventional weight loss.
To find out more about how overweight and obesity are diagnosed, or to schedule an appointment to talk to our team about weight loss surgery, please call our offices.