Monday, January 28, 2013

Am I Overweight or Am I Obese?

Before I address today’s topic, let me share with you some interesting information.

Several years ago I was impacted by an article I found in an AARP magazine (it was in a doctor’s office, not my home). 5,000 readers over the age of 60 took part in a survey. The survey asked the following question, or close to it. If you were to live your life over…what 2 things would you change or do differently? The resounding answers were consistently the same: (1) take better care of my health (2) save more money and have healthier finances.

There’s a message I got from this article that stays with me today. Good health is a gift and we need to protect it so our “golden years” are quality years. Being overweight limits activity and sets us up for many debilitating diseases.

Being a health coach and primarily working with clients who want a healthier lifestyle by losing weight and changing habits, it only seemed appropriate to write about the “terms” used to decide when a person is at a weight that sets them up for many health risks (and an unhealthy retirement not to mention the costs associated with being overweight).

The terms “Overweight” and “Obese” are ones a medical professional will use regarding the amount of excessive body fat you are storing. It’s that stuff we accumulate when we take in more calories than we use for energy each day.

An adult who has a body fat percentage between 25 to 29.9 percent is considered overweight.

An adult who has a body fat percentage between 30 to 39,9 percent is considered obese. Anyone with a body fat percentage of 40 and above is considered morbidly obese.

For longevity, and in order to stay healthy, it’s important to know where you are regarding body fat. If you do not have an active lifestyle your healthcare professional will suggest a healthy diet so your weight does not continue to increase. .

This chart illustrates each BMI range for a person 5’ 9”:

Weight Range
5' 9"
124 lbs or less
Below 18.5
125 lbs to 168 lbs
18.5 to 24.9
Healthy weight
169 lbs to 202 lbs
25.0 to 29.9
203 lbs or more
30 or higher

There are several ways to obtain an accurate measurement of body fat. The most common is the Body Mass Index Chart that you have probably seen at your doctor’s office. This chart is also called a BMI Chart.

The BMI Chart is readily available at a doctor’s office or you can use the online calculator found on my website (bottom left corner).

There are a few drawbacks about using this chart for accuracy, and the main one pertains to athletes. If you are very active, the best way for you to determine what your BMI is would be to contact a weight loss coach or a trained professional at your local gym.

Other methods of estimating body fat and body fat distribution include measurements of skinfold thickness and waist circumference, calculation of waist-to-hip circumference ratios, and methods such as ultrasound.

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CDC:  Center For Disease Control and Prevention


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