Health And Body Issues: How To Figure Out If You're Overweight

There are several easy ways to determine if you are overweight or obese and how much weight, if any, you need to lose.

According to the Centers for Disease Control nearly two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese. Most health care experts define being overweight as having a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 25 or more. There are some exceptions to this; athletes, for example, may have a BMI of over 25. This is referred to as being overweight, but not "over fat." For the rest of us, there are a few simple measures that we can use to judge if we are overweight or not.

The BMI is the first of these measures. BMI is calculated by taking your weight, dividing it by your height in inches squared, and multiplying that number by 703. For example a person who is 150 pounds and five feet six inches would calculate her BMI like this. Sixty six multiplied by 66 is 4,356. Her weight, 150, is divided by 4,356 and is equal to 0.0344. This number is then multiplied by 703 which results in 24.2. Most medical professionals would agree that this person is at a healthy weight.

Being overweight is harmful to your health, but where a person carries extra weight may be just as important as how much she is carrying. This person's BMI might fall in the normal range, but she might have thin legs and arms and carry all her extra weight in her abdomen. People who carry extra weight in their stomachs are at greater risk of heart disease and other ailments associated with being overweight or obese. To check this measurement, use a tape measure to measure the distance around the smallest area below the ribcage and above the belly button. Healthful measurements for men are 40 inches or less. For women the magic number is 35 inches.

Similarly, the waist to hip ratio can also be used to see how a person carries his or her weight and if that puts him/her at any additional risk. To do this measurement, simply measure your waist, as above, and divide it by the hip measurement. In this measurement, hips are measured around the largest area of the buttocks. For both men and women a result of 1.0 or more is considered dangerous. For women, a ratio of .8 is considered safe. For men, that number is .9. It is important to keep in mind that these last two measurements are not designed for people under five feet tall.

The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company also has tables available that list desirable weights depending on height and frame size. These tables are widely available and while may not be the most sophisticated way of finding a good weight for your frame and height, can serve as guidelines for people to figure out if they are overweight or not.

Body fat percentage is also a good way to see if you are overweight or not. Everyone would agree that it is important not just to lose weight but to lose body fat. One way of doing this is by using body fat percentages. A certain amount of fat is essential for human health. Women should not go under 10-12% and men not under 2-4%. Acceptable body fat measures for men range anywhere between 6% and 25%. For women, these numbers are anywhere from 14% to 31%. Let's say that the woman with the BMI of 24.2 decides she wants to lose 20 pounds. That would make her BMI 21 which is considered healthy and fits in with most health charts as well as the waist to hip ratio and the waist measurement. Now let's say that this woman has 25% body fat, meaning that she is carrying 37.5 pounds of fat. If she loses 20 pounds of fat, that means she will only have 17.5 pounds of fat left and weigh 130 pounds for a body fat percentage of only 13%. By using body fat percentages, you can get a more accurate feel for how much fat you are carrying and therefore how much you need to lose or not lose, as the case may be. This woman would be better off and more healthy if she lost 10 pounds of fat. At 27.5 pounds of fat and 140 pounds that gives her 20% body fat, a very healthy number. There are new scales that can measure weight along with body fat percentage. There are also body fat calipers that you can buy. These are more accurate if you get someone to take the measurement for you. There is also a machine that uses small currents of electricity to measure body fat. It is painless and your doctor can tell you where to get the test done in your area.

© High Speed Ventures 2011