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Assessing Your Weight and Health Risk

This is the 3rd in the series, Knowing Your numbers. The first was about understanding the numbers for blood pressure. The second was about knowing your numbers for cholesterol. This article concerns the numbers for BMI or Body Mass Index. The assessment of weight and health risk involves using three key measures

  • Body mass index (BMI)
  • Waist circumference
  • Risk factors for diseases and conditions associated with obesity

Body Mass Index (BMI)

BMI is a useful measure of overweight and obesity. It is calculated from your height and weight. BMI is an estimate of body fat that can gauge your risk for diseases that can occur with more body fat.

The higher your BMI, the higher your risk for certain diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems, and certain cancers.

Although BMI can be used for most men and women, it does have some limits.

  • It may overestimate body fat in athletes and others who have a muscular build
  • It may underestimate body fat in older persons and others who have lost muscle

Calculate Your Body Mass Index (BMI)

Use the links below to enter your weight and height and select your BMI. This useful calculator can be used in standard and metric measures. You may also download it as a mobile application on your iphone. Results show up on your phone along with links to healthy weight resources on the NHLBI-National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Website.

Calculate Your BMI

The link below will take you to the, Body Mass Index Table 1

The BMI score means the following

  • Underweight           Below 18.5
  • Normal                      18.5 to 24.9
  • Overweight             25.0 to 29.9
  • Obesity                    30.0 and Above

Waist Circumference

Measuring waist circumference helps screen for possible health risks that come with overweight and obesity. If most of your fat is around your waist rather than at your hips, you are at a higher risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

This risk goes up with a waist size that is greater than 35 inches for women or greater than 40 inches for men. To correctly measure your waist, stand and place a tape measure around your middle, just above your hipbones. Measure your waist just after you breathe out.

Health Risks Associated With Obesity

Along with being overweight or obese, the following conditions will put you at greater risk for heart disease and other conditions.

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High LDL cholesterol ("bad"or "lousy" cholesterol)
  • Low HDL cholesterol ("good" or "healthy," cholesterol)
  • High triglycerides
  • High blood glucose (sugar)
  • Family history of premature heart disease
  • Physical inactivity
  • Cigarette smoking

Now that you know Your Numbers

For people who are considered obese, (BMI greater than or equal to 30) or those who are overweight (BMI of 25 to 29.9) and have two or more risk factors, it is recommended that you lose weight. Even a small weight loss, (between 5 and 10 percent of your current weight), will help lower your risk of developing diseases associated with obesity.

People who are overweight, do not have a high waist measurement, and have fewer than two risk factors may need to prevent further weight gain rather than lose weight.

Talk to your doctor to see whether you are at an increased risk and whether you should lose weight. Your doctor will evaluate your BMI, waist measurement, and other risk factors for heart disease.

The good news is that even a small weight loss (between 5 and 10 percent of your current weight) will help lower your risk of developing those diseases.

end of article

For information on other useful numbers for health, check, Blood Pressure and
Understanding Cholesterol Numbers

end of article


Information for this article was obtained from the source listed below. If you would like more information, please click the link below.

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute

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