How Fat is Fat?

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Back in the days, people who were “hefty” or “plump” are said to have been blessed by graces and blessings from above.  They were widely accepted in society as those who are more than able to provide for their means.

Nowadays, being “heavy” carries an uncertainty with the way one’s health goes.  As more and more research is done, this has been associated with a number of medical illnesses.  A handful of experts even include this state as a medical illness itself.  Organizations like the World Health Organization have even labeled obesity as an epidemic.

The term obesity is referred to when one’s body mass index (BMI) is equal to or more than 30kg/m2.  Special considerations are given to elite resistance athletes and body builders.  In order to know one’s BMI, you just have to take your height in meters and  weight in kilograms.  Dividing the weight by the square of the height gives the BMI.  The normal BMI is between 18.5 and 25.

Some experts believe that the real measure of obesity lies in the amount of visceral fat mainly deposited in the abdomen.  Precise measurements of this would need specialized imaging such as computed tomography or magnetic imaging resonance scans which may be impractical in some parts of the world.  A practical way of estimating this is by measuring the abdominal circumference.  Abdominal obesity is present if the waist measurement is more than 102 cm (40 inches) in men, and 88 cm (35 inches) in women.  This is important because an increasing abdominal girth predisposes a person more to certain chronic illnesses and even mortality, despite a normal BMI.

Take charge of your health beginning today.  Take your body mass index and waist circumference regularly to monitor your progress to healthy living.

 

References:

Obesity: Preventing and managing the global epidemic. Report of a WHO consultation. World Health Organ Tech Rep Ser 2000; 894: pp. i-xii

National Institutes of Health : Clinical guidelines on the identification, evaluation, and treatment of overweight and obesity in adults—the evidence report. Obes Res 1998; 6: pp. 51S-209S

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