Weight & Waist Management

tape measure, water, and vegetablesBody Mass Index

 

 

Today,
64.5 percent of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese. How do you know if
you are among them? Two simple measures, body mass index (BMI) and waist
circumference, provide useful estimates of overweight, obesity, and body fat
distribution.

BMI measures your weight in relation to
your height, and is closely associated with measures of body fat. You can
calculate your BMI using this formula:

BMI equals weight in pounds times 703 divided by height in inches squared

For example, for someone who is 5 feet, 7
inches tall and weighs 220 pounds, the calculation would look like
this:

BMI equals 220 pounds times 703 inches divided by 67 inches squared equals 154,660 divided by 4489 equals 34.45

A
BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered healthy. A person with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is
considered overweight, and a person with a BMI of 30 or more is considered
obese.

You can also find your weight group on the
chart below. The chart applies to all adults. The higher weights in the healthy
range apply to people with more muscle and bone, such as men. Even within the
healthy range, weight gain could increase your risk for health
problems.

Body Mass Index chart

Find your weight on the bottom of the
graph. Go straight up from that point until you come to the line that matches
your height. Then look to find your weight group. The higher your BMI is over
25, the greater chance you may have of developing health
problems.

* Without shoes **Without
clothes

Because BMI does not show the difference
between fat and muscle, it does not always accurately predict when weight could
lead to health problems. For example, someone with a lot of muscle (such as a
body builder) may have a BMI in the unhealthy range, but still be healthy and
have little risk of developing diabetes or having a heart attack.

BMI also may not
accurately reflect body fatness in people who are very short (under 5 feet) and
in older people, who tend to lose muscle mass as they age. And it may not be the
best predictor of weight-related health problems among some racial and ethnic
groups such as African American and Hispanic/Latino American women. But for most
people, BMI is a reliable way to tell if your weight is putting your health at
risk.


Waist circumference Photo of a measuring tapeExcess weight, as measured by BMI, is not the only risk to your
health. So is the location of fat on your body. If you carry fat mainly around
your waist, you are more likely to develop health problems than if you carry fat
mainly in your hips and thighs. This is true even if your BMI falls within the
normal range. Women with a waist measurement of more than 35 inches or men with
a waist measurement of more than 40 inches may have a higher disease risk than
people with smaller waist measurements because of where their fat
lies.

To measure
your waist circumference, place a tape measure around your bare abdomen just
above your hip bone. Be sure that the tape is snug, but does not compress your
skin, and is parallel to the floor. Relax, exhale, and measure your waist.


How does overweight or obesity affect my health?

Extra
weight can put you at a higher risk for many health problems including type 2
diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Extra weight
can put you at higher risk for these health problems:

type 2
diabetes (high blood sugar)

high blood
pressure

heart disease
and stroke

some types of
cancer

sleep apnea
(when breathing stops for short periods during sleep)

osteoarthritis (wearing away of the
joints)

gallbladder
disease

liver
disease

irregular
menstrual periods


What should I do if my BMI or waist measurement is too
high?

If your BMI
is between 25 and 30 and you are otherwise healthy, try to avoid gaining more
weight, and look into healthy ways to lose weight and increase physical
activity. Talk to your health care provider about losing weight if

your BMI is
30 or above, or

your BMI is
between 25 and 30 and you have:

two or m

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