What's Your BMI? Knowing Can Keep You Healthy

No less an institution than the World Health Organization has declared that obesity has reached epidemic proportions worldwide, with more than 1 billion adults overweight. In the United States, more than two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese.

Carrying extra pounds has serious health implications. Obesity raises the risk for diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer. It can make you more susceptible to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, sleep apnea and other respiratory problems, liver and gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis (cartilage and bone degeneration) and gynecological problems such as infertility.

To see how your health measures up, there are three numbers to focus on: weight, body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference. Learn more about your BMI.

The Measurements to Know
Your weight is the number of pounds you weigh with no shoes on and in light clothing. If you are overweight, the equation is simple: You are taking in too many calories and not expending them enough. In other words, you’re eating too much and not exercising enough.

Your BMI is calculated by measuring weight relative to height. This number correlates to the amount of fat you are carrying. A number greater than 25.0 is considered overweight. Keep in mind BMI can’t distinguish between fat and muscle, so an athlete with a lot of muscle mass will have a higher BMI but not actually be at risk of being obese. Click here to calculate your BMI.

Waist circumference takes into account that the location of excess weight on your body is a risk factor. If extra fat is stored around the waist, as opposed to on hips or thighs, you are at greater risk for health issues. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Kidney Diseases, having excess waist weight is an issue even if your BMI is normal. Men whose waist circumference—measured around your torso above the hip, at your bellybutton—is more than 40 inches and women whose waist circumference is more than 35 inches have an increased chance of health issues.

Getting all three of these numbers into the normal range should be your goal. Talk to your doctor about the best way to approach healthy, sustainable weight loss, through diet as well as exercise.

Need Expert Help

At the Diabetes & Nutrition Education Center, registered dietitians can work with you to develop a customize nutrition plans to meet your specific needs  and diet goals. Click here to learn more about Diet-by-Design.

The Center for Surgical Weight Management at Gwinnett Medical Center–Duluth understands dieting and exercise alone aren't the answer for every person. As a leader, our comprehensive bariatric program can assist patients in achieving significant weight loss, long-term weight maintenance and improvement in obesity-related medical conditions. 


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