According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, more than 2 out of every 3 adults—and 1 out of every 3 children—are overweight, and more than half of these overweight people are obese. Obesity is a multi-faceted and complex medical condition, characterized by a person being grossly fat or overweight. One can be overweight without being obese—some people weigh more than the average for their height because of muscles, bone, or water weight. But if you have too much fat, it can endanger your health and put you at serious risk of health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
The main tool used to measure body fat—and can hence tell whether one is overweight or obese—is the body mass index (BMI). You can calculate your body mass index by dividing your weight in kilograms (1 kg ≈ 2.2 lb) by your height in meters squared (1 m ≈ 3.28 ft; 1 m2 ≈ 10.76 ft2). You can find out your BMI online by entering your height and weight into the BMI calculator provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A typical healthy person has a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9. A BMI of 25 or greater is considered overweight, and a BMI of 30 or greater is likely to be obese.
|Obese (Class I)
|Obese (Class II)
|40.0 and higher
|Extreme obesity (Class III)
BMI is not a perfect measurement. Some people may have a BMI in the overweight or obese category, even if they don’t have a lot of body fat. Very muscular people are one example, and some people may have a high weight because of bone mass, excess water, or a stocky build. But for most people, BMI is a reasonable place to start when you want to know if you have a healthy weight.
Fortunately, if you are overweight or obese, even a little weight loss can help you improve your health and prevent some of the health problems that obesity may cause. Losing weight isn’t easy. It can take time and effort to get rid of excess pounds and keep them off. But losing weight can make a permanent and vital difference in your overall health.