What is Overweight
What Does It Mean to Be
From the Million Dollar Body Club - Join Today and Workout to
It's no secret that the U.S. is
one of the fattest nations in the world: 66.3% of Americans over 20 years old
are overweight or obese (about 140 million); 32% are obese (67 million); and
almost 5% (9 million) are morbidly obese. Of adolescents 12 to 19 years old,
over 17% are overweight (over 12.5 million), 16% of them girls, and 18.2%,
boys. But what exactly do the terms "overweight," "obese," and "morbidly obese"
mean, and why should these distinctions matter to you?
The standard definitions as used
by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control
(CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO) (and most social science and
medical journals that rely on the data from those organizations) are based on
body mass index (BMI) levels. This is a calculation using your height and
Calculate your BMI
- You can easily find out your
BMI using the Healthy Weight
- Metric formula.
Otherwise, divide your weight (in kilograms) by your height (in meters)
squared: [weight (kg)/height squared (m2)].
- NIH method.
If you prefer good ole American pounds and inches, multiply your weight (in
pounds) by 704.5. Divide that by your height (in inches). Then divide that
number again by your height (in inches): [(weight (lbs) x 704.5)/height
Which group are you in?
weight. BMI of 18.5 to 24.9
- Nonsmokers in this range
have the lowest risk of disease and premature death.
BMI of 25 or more
- This group has an
increased risk of weight-related medical problems, including diabetes, heart
disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
- Obese. BMI of 30 or more (at least 30
- 67 million Americans (32%
- Women: 36 million (33%)
- Men: 32 million (31%)
- The number of obese
American adults doubled in the last 20 years.
- Weight-related medical
problems increase sharply for this group: type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular
disease, breast and colon cancer, gall bladder disease, high blood pressure
(twice as common as for people at a healthy weight), stroke, osteoarthritis,
sleep apnea, respiratory problems, etc.
- This group has a 50% to
100% increased risk of premature death from all causes.
obese. BMI of 40 or more (typically about 100 pounds overweight)
- 9 million Americans
- The number of morbidly
obese American adults quadrupled in the last 20 years.
- People in this group have
an increased risk for a shorter life expectancy (it could be up to 20 years
shorter): death from diabetes or heart attack is 5 to 7 times greater than for
non-obese peopleheart disease is 6 times more common, and diabetes is 10
times more common.
Data from the
National Center for Health Statistics, based on 20032004 estimates from
National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES), and from the U.S.
Department of Health & Human Services.
Problems with BMI
Although body mass index is the
most commonly used measurement of obesity, it doesn't distinguish between fat
and fat-free mass, like muscle and bone. Bodybuilders and other athletes with
lots of muscle (which weighs more than fat) may have high BMIs, and so would be
classified "overweight" or "obese," though they're more likely to be healthy
and fit, not fat. And older people who lose muscle mass through the aging
process and then replace muscle weight with fat may still have the same height
and weight, and so, BMI number, though they'd actually be "fatter."
Because of such concerns, some
researchers are pressing for more accurate ways to assess body fat, including
using body fat percentage, while others argue that it's the location of body
fat that's most important, not simply how much of it you have. Excessive deep
abdominal fat is far worse than fat around your hips and thighs, as it is
linked to increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and other serious
medical conditions. Your waist measurement, then, is also a gauge of your
health (over 35 inches for women and over 40 inches for men is associated with
higher disease risk).
But because BMI is so easy to
determine, and because most of the research on the medical risks stemming from
obesity is based on BMI data, your body mass index is a number worth
Reverse the trend!
If you're reading this, chances
are you've bought a Beachbody product and are on your way to a long-term
healthy and fit lifestyle. Good for you! And if right now you happen to be one
of the 140 million Americans who are considered overweight or obese, just keep
exercisingKeep Pushing Playand keep eating right, and here's what
you can look forward to:
- Lowering your risk of heart
disease or stroke by losing just 5% to 15% of your weight
- Lowering your risk of type 2
diabetes (losing 10 to 15 pounds is enough for most people, according to the
American Diabetes Association)
- A 10% decrease in total
cholesterol and a 40% decrease in obesity-related cancers by losing 10% of your