Obesity is not just a cosmetic problem. It is a health hazard. And it has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. Simply put, obesity is defined as too much body fat. Your body is made up of water, protein, fat, carbohydrates and other vitamins and minerals. Someone who is 40% overweight is twice as likely to die prematurely as an average-weight person. This is due to the fact that obesity has been linked to several serious medical conditions, including:
- Heart disease and stroke
- High Blood Pressure
- Gallbladder disease and gallstones
- Breathing problems, such as sleep apnea and asthma
Doctors generally agree that the more obese a person is, the more likely he or she is to have health problems. People who are 20% or more overweight can benefit greatly from losing weight. Many obesity experts believe that people who are less than 20% over their ideal weight should still try to lose the extra weight if they have any of the following health factors:
- Family history of certain chronic diseases. People with close relatives who have had heart disease or diabetes are more likely to develop these same diseases if they are obese.
- Pre-existing medical conditions. High cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, or high blood sugar levels are all warning signs of some obesity-related diseases.
- "Apple shape". People who carry the bulk of their weight around their stomachs may be at a greater risk of developing diabetes, cancer, or heart disease than people of the same weight who carry their weight in their hips and buttocks.
The good news is that even a modest weight loss of 10 to 20 pounds can bring you significant health improvements. These include lowering one's blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
How do you calculate how much body fat you have?
Usually, waist measurement and your body mass index (BMI) are accurate indicators of body fat. A waistline measurement of 35 inches or more for women and 40 inches or more for men is considered high-risk.
The body mass index formula assesses body weight in relation to height. It is a useful way to measure body composition, since in most people it is a strong indicator of body fat. Multiply your weight in pounds by 703, divide by height in inches, then divide again by height in inches. In kilograms, divide your weight by height in meters squared. Here is what the results correlate to:
- If your BMI value is less than 18.5, you are considered underweight.
- If your BMI value falls between 18.5 and 24.9, you are considered normal.
- If your BMI value is between 25.0 and 30.0, you are considered overweight. People within this range have an increased risk of heart and blood vessel disease.
- Obesity is defined as having a BMI value of 30.0 or greater and corresponds to being approximately 30 or more pounds overweight. People with this BMI value have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Extreme obesity is defined as a BMI of 40 or greater.
Some well-trained people with very dense muscle mass may have a high BMI score but very little body fat. For them, the waist circumference, the skinfold thickness or more direct methods of measuring body fat may be more useful in determining the true body fat amount.