So, if you watch the news at all then you are probably very aware that the nation is becoming obese. A recent study has shown that by 2030, 42% of Americans will be obese. So look around… do you see two other people? Ok out of the three of you, there is no doubt that one of you will be obese by 2030. Not overweight… O-B-E-S-E. What’s the difference you ask? Well let me tell you.
A common tool used to measure overweight and obesity is called the BMI- Body Mass Index. It measures each individual’s weight and height, gives you a number and that number classifies you into a category of underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese.
Ok so how do you determine your BMI?
You take your weight in pounds, and divide by height in inches squared x 703
Weight (lbs) X 703 = BMI
Height (in) x Height (in)
Example: Lets take Jane, a 140 pound woman who is 5’5 (65 inches)
140 (lbs)______ = 140 (lbs)_ = 0.0331 x 703 = 23.3
65 (in) x 65 (in) 4,225 (in)
So, Jane’s BMI is 23.3. Now how do we know how to classify her?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines BMI in these ranges:
Underweight: BMI below 18.5
Normal weight: 18.5 to 24.9
Overweight: 25.0 to 29.9
Obese: 30.0 and above
So, Jane is in a normal weight range. What if she wasn’t a normal weight range?? Well Jane would need to decrease her caloric intake, eat more nutrient dense foods, and exercise!
Just because Jane is considered “normal weight” does not mean that she’s home free. There are several other factors affecting health including smoking, low physical activity, and poor diet.
Please keep in mind that this tool is mainly used on adults. It can be used for children, but it tends to be a pretty sticky subject. Kids are constantly growing and their BMIs can change rapidly. So please do not go calculate the BMI of your 10 year old and proceed to put he or she on a strict diet. You should be more concerned about providing he or she with a balanced, nutritious diet and plenty of play time. His or her pediatrician should let you know if there is anything to be concerned about.
Also, these calculations are not considered as accurate when used on the elderly and athletes. I will say one thing about athletes being excluded- and that is that this excuse applies to a very small percentage of the population. As you may know, muscle weighs more than fat. So, athletes who are 6% body fat and weigh 300 pounds may fall into the obese category when they actually are not. BUT if someone rarely works out, is not considered a high performing athlete, and falls into an undesired category, it may not be the muscle that is weighing so much….
- What is BMI? (fastslimbody.com)
- Get the Skinny on dropping Fat in the New Year (sterlinghealth.wordpress.com)