(BlackDoctor.org) — To be obese is to be overweight, but to be overweight doesn’t necessarily make you obese. A bulky weight trainer, whose muscle mass may take up a high percentage of their weight, could have the same BMI as a dormant couch potato. Tricky right?
“What exactly is a BMI?” you may be asking. A BMI (body mass index) is a universal measurement that many health professionals use to compare body weight to height.
Obese vs. Overweight
“Obese is defined as a BMI of > 30,” says Dr. Robert L. Richard of FACS. “This is significant because at this BMI, the individual is at a higher risk of risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, as well as coronary artery disease. Being overweight is defined as a BMI of between 25 and 29. The risk is less with the lower BMI; however, some individual variations in fat distribution may alter this risk. Individuals with more weight around the waist for example are at higher risk. For men a waist size > 40 inches and >35 for women are associated with increase risk.”
Most people think this is enough to define themselves as overweight, obese or neither, but being considered fat is not as simple as a BMI number.
Judy Stone, a certified nutritionist and director of the Center for Functional Nutrition, says BMI is merely a start.
“It is most useful as a guideline in reference to people who are inactive and don’t exercise because the weight measure has no way of distinguishing between lean muscle mass and fat,” Stone says.
Stone recommends observing other health factors in order to determine your physical health status. She says it’s easy for people to look at the obvious — specifically appearance — but additional functions play a major role.
“The differences between someone who is overweight and someone who is obese are going to be a matter of degree,” Stone says. “You are more likely to see poorer blood sugar regulation, higher blood pressure, higher triglyceride levels and more chronic conditions as a person moves along the continuum from overweight to obese.”
Here are a few everyday ways to help you determine whether you are overweight, obese or average.
1. Regulate your body’s blood sugar and blood pressure levels. High levels of both are a result of bad eating habits and a lack of exercise. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the recommended blood pressure is 120/80 or less. Blood glucose levels should be between 70 and 140 mg/dL before meals.
2. Pay attention to small signs. Frequent headaches, gas after meals or difficulties waking up in the morning are issues you should make note of. Stone says to be worried when you get a collection of symptoms. “Little things that people wouldn’t pay attention to,” Stone says, “are indications that something is wrong with your body.”
3. Evaluate the types of groceries you buy. “If you have more things that don’t need to go in the refrigerator than items that do, you should reevaluate your grocery choices,” Stone says. The best foods to eat are ones without a nutrition label, including fresh vegetables, poultry and fruits.
Stone says that foods that come in packages are normally predigested by the manufacturer to extend the lifespan. These foods are processed with artificial preservatives, complex sugars and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol — ingredients that elevate sugar levels.