In simple terms, being overweight is a situation when a person has excessive weight, more specifically, excessive body fat, which can be harmful to health and lead to an array of health conditions including but not limited to stroke and diabetes. Obesity is an extreme situation of being overweight when the body fat is just too high and the health risks associated with it are also increased.

Key Facts About Obesity

  • In the last 40 years, obesity has grown two times and nowadays almost a third of the world’s population is classified as overweight or obese.
  • 41.9 percent of adult Americans are considered obese as the 2022 report shows.
  • It is ranked as the fifth most common leading cause of death globally.

What Are The Risks Of Being Overweight And Obese?

Obesity is one of the major health problems nowadays and is ranked as the fifth most common leading cause of death globally. The higher the weight, the higher the risks posed to your health. Different forms of obesity might increase the risks of developing several chronic conditions and diseases such as:

  • Asthma;
  • Many types of cancer;
  • Type 2 Diabetes;
  • Hypercholesterolemia;
  • Cardiovascular diseases;
  • High blood pressure;
  • Heart disease;
  • Stroke;
  • Arthritis;
  • Depression;
  • Sleep apnea;
  • Liver, kidney, and gallbladder diseases;
  • Pregnancy complications.

Studies showed that obesity has the ability to affect almost every organ system in our body starting from the gastrointestinal (GI) system to the endocrine system, central nervous system, and cardiovascular (CV) system. Moreover, it can worsen the existing health conditions of the person as well as instigate new ones.

How To Measure Overweight And Obesity

To tell whether you are overweight or obese, a doctor needs to measure your body fat. One of the widest-used tools for measuring weight status is Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is a weight-for-height measure used to classify the weight status of people.

You can check if you are overweight or obese using BMI in 2 easy steps:

  1. To identify your Body Mass Index, enter your weight and height on our BMI calculator.
  2. Look at the following chart to see if your BMI falls within the range of underweight, healthy weight, overweight, or obesity. Obesity is divided into several classes based on the level of body fat. If you fall within the range of obesity, look at the following chart to see the extent to which you are obese.
BMI LevelWeight Classification
Less than 18.5Underweight
18.5 to 25Healthy weight
25.0 to 30.0Overweight
30.0 or higherObesity
30 to 35First Class Obesity
35 to 40Second Class Obesity
40 or higherThird Class or “severe” obesity

However, BMI is just a rough guide, please visit the doctor for more accurate results.


Beyond BMI: Why Measuring Obesity Is More Sophisticated Than You Think

Although these calculations might give you an approximation of your weight condition and be useful in certain circumstances, BMI neither covers all aspects of your condition nor gives accurate results on the mass of your body fat. After all, BMI is just a statistical measure, not a biological one. BMI measures weight for height ratio and is correlated with more direct measures of body fat, it does not measure body fat directly.

There are factors that should be taken into account when measuring body fat such as age, the phenotype of the body, and many others. Each body is different and there are a variety of body phenotypes that the measure of BMI does not take into account. For example, It is hard to identify risks associated with your weight just by BMI because increased BMI may be due to many factors such as increased Lean Body Mass (LBM) which is:

Lean Body Mass (LBM) = Total Body Weight – Fat Mass.

Therefore, sometimes even if your BMI says that you are in a healthy weight range, it is better to recheck with alternative methods to approximate your body fat and thus health risks associated with it. Waist-to-Hip Ratio is one of the alternatives to BMI which will be discussed in a moment.

Waist-to-Hip Ratio As An Alternative To BMI

As its name suggests, Waist-to-Hip Ratio is the relation of your waist measurement to your hip measurement. This type of evaluation focuses specifically on abdominal obesity, a condition when too much fat is stored around your waist. The higher the ratio of your waist to your hip, the higher amount of fat stored around your waist and thus the higher risks of heart diseases, diabetes, and other weight-related conditions.

The fat around your waist surrounds the liver and other internal organs and is called visceral fat. This visceral fat can emit certain hormones and chemicals that might cause inflammation in your body which leads to increased levels of cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood glucose.

How to Measure Waist-to-Hip Ratio In 3 Steps

Measure your waist by wrapping a tape measure at the smallest place of your waist and record the number.
To get the circumference of your hips, measure it at the widest part in the same way as before and record the number.
Finally, divide your waist measurement by your hip circumference. The result is your Waist-to-Hip Ratio.

Compare your results with the table below to learn if you have abdominal obesity. The results for men and women slightly differ.

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