In our last blog post, I talked about the definition of Obesity, or Unhealthy Weight as I prefer to call it. Today, we will talk about what measurements we use to diagnose it.
Body Mass Index
The CDC diagnosis is based on the Body Mass Index or BMI. It is based on height and weight, and nothing else, but it does correlate well with body fat weight and its consequences in most people. It puts people into six weight categories: <18.5 is underweight, 18.5-24.9 is normal, 25-29.9 is overweight, and 30 and above is obesity with increasing BMI’s defined as classes 1, 2, and 3. You can find BMI calculators through a simple google search. This is a great tool for screening, but has many limitations. The most common relates to having more muscle mass than expected. Mr. Universe would likely have a BMI that would put him in Stage 3 obesity despite having total body fat of only about 2%. It also doesn’t account for race, which becomes important for many Asians who qualify as overweight or obese at lower BMI’s. It may underestimate percent body fat in people with lower muscle mass as well, so some people with normal BMI’s may have health
consequences from an unhealthy % body fat.
There are other commonly used measurements to diagnose unhealthy weight. When measuring waist circumference, over 40” in men and 35” in women is abnormal, but, again, normal is lower in Asians. Waist to hip size ratios of over 0.9 in men and 0.85 in women is considered diagnostic of obesity. A measured percent body fat over 2-5% in men and 10-13% in women is also considered unhealthy. This can be measured by measuring skin fold thickness, bioelectric impedance, underwater weight, or body composition by DEXA scanning.
The Medical Condition Of The Century
Using these measures, roughly 70% of Americans have unhealthy weights and more than half of them meet the criteria for the diagnosis of obesity. This makes unhealthy weight the medical condition of the century. In the coming weeks we will talk about the effects of unhealthy weight, causes of weight gain, the elements of a weight loss plan, and how to keep the weight off once you’ve lost it.
Until then, please check out my website for my prior videos and blog posts, links to more information, a complimentary self-assessment questionnaire for those worried about their testosterone levels, and a link to make an appointment to see