As we mentioned earlier, a healthy weight is a weight that’s right for your body shape, age, and physical conditioning. Health professionals use three key measurements to determine the right weight for you.
The first is “Body Mass Index,” or BMI. This is a calculation that takes into account height and weight.
A BMI of 18.5 or below: Underweight
A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9: Normal
A BMI of 25 to 29.9: Overweight
A BMI of 30 or greater: Obese
Although BMI is a reliable indicator of total body fat, it does have some limits. If you are an athlete or have a muscular build, it may overestimate your body fat. And, it may underestimate body fat in older adults and in others who have lost muscle mass.
Another way to determine whether you are obese or overweight is to measure your abdominal fat. You can measure your waist circumference by placing a measuring tape snugly around your waist. (Don’t hold it in – that’s cheating!) Your waist circumference is a good indicator of your abdominal fat. Your risk for obesity-related diseases increases if your waist measurement is more than 40 inches for a man and more than 35 inches for a women.
So how does a person become overweight or obese? Again, the formula is simple. If you eat more calories than you burn, day, after day, after day, you will become overweight or obese. If you are overweight or obese, you should be concerned. Not because of your clothing size or the number on your bathroom scale. You should be concerned because, as the CDC reports, an overweight or obese person is more likely to develop long-term, costly medical problems, such as:
Type 2 diabetes
High blood pressure
Different kinds of cancer, including colon, breast and endometrial
Liver and gallbladder disease
Sleep apnea and other sleep disorders
Gynecological disorders, including infertility
Is there any good news? Yes. Increased physical activity improves health – regardless of whether a person loses weight. An important study found that obese people who are moderately or highly physically active are less likely to die of heart disease or stroke than persons who are not overweight but are physically inactive. The same study also found that physical inactivity led to more deaths than smoking, diabetes – or obesity.
The good news is that you have the power to improve your life. All it takes to improve your health is a little physical activity, and it doesn’t have to be any particular kind. Walking, dancing, hiking, skiing, swimming, other water aerobics, or jogging – all will help. And they won’t just help keep you from dying: physical activity helps prevent disease. Research shows that type 2 diabetes can be prevented in nearly 60 percent of all cases by being physically active and choosing healthy foods and beverages.
If you are overweight or obese, you know that it can be difficult to lose weight. But, please, don’t despair. You can become healthier, and give yourself more chances to do the things you want, whether it’s enjoying your family, traveling, or simply feeling better simply by moving more. The choices are yours, and the Utah Partnership for Healthy Weight will do what it can to help.