Carrying extra body weight is becoming more common in the U.S. In fact, HealthData.org reports that nearly 160 million Americans are either obese or overweight, which is between 60-70 percent of the adult population. The U.S. also has the highest proportion of overweight and obese people in the world. This epidemic goes way beyond aesthetics. Higher body weight leads to elevated risks of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, chronic inflammation, chronic pain, and a host of other unfortunate health problems. It’s important for anyone with higher levels of body fat to know:
- Your current BMI
- Health risks associated with your BMI
- Weight classification: Overweight vs. Obese
- The healthiest BMI range for your age and height
Calculate Your BMI
Start off by calculating your BMI or Body Mass Index, which is an indicator of your level of body fat. (BMI) is calculated by taking weight in kilograms and dividing it by the square of height in meters. To calculate your BMI, you may enter your height and weight here: CDC BMI Calculator
Using your BMI number, the following classifications will determine where you stand:
- Healthy weight range: A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9
- Overweight: A BMI between 25 and 30
- Obesity: A BMI equal to or greater than 30
[Learn More About Obesity Here]
Being Overweight vs. Obese
It’s highly likely that that the majority of U.S. adults (and a growing number of children and teens) will become overweight at some point in their lives. Increasingly sedentary lifestyles, poor diet habits, hormonal changes, age, post-pregnancy changes to the body are just some of the reasons why weight gain is common. Being overweight often occurs in cycles, and can take place at any phase in life. The symptoms and health risks of being overweight may include, abdominal fat, bloating and fatigue, prediabetes, stage 1 hypertension, hormonal imbalances, snoring, excessive sweating, aches and pains, low to moderate physical activity, and shortness of breath.
While being overweight may not pose as many health problems as obesity, this phase often brings about the beginnings of one or more health conditions associated with weight, lifestyle and diet. As mentioned, the onset of prediabetes and/or high blood pressure is common at this stage. Extra body fat in the midsection is typically an indicator of high insulin levels, and fat can build up around the liver and other vital organs. If you’re overweight, this is a prime opportunity to switch to a healthier style of living which includes changes in behavior, what you consume, and your level of physical activity.
Though individuals who are overweight are more likely than obese patients to lose weight without the help of medical professionals, anyone who has been overweight for over two years, or who has had a repeated cycle of weight loss and gain can benefit from medical weight loss assistance. Remember, the sooner you get help, the more likely you are to reverse the early onset of debilitating health conditions.
Obesity is likely to be caused by long-term fat accumulation, which is why many cases begin as early as childhood. Obesity symptoms range from little to no physical activity, debilitating pain while walking, weakness and shortness of breath, addictive eating habits, excessive fat throughout the body, an increased inability to cope with daily activities (showering, grocery shopping), isolation, and mood instability. Additionally, given its long-term nature, obesity sufferers are likely to be in the full stages of at least one co-occurring disorder such as, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, chronic pain, inflammatory conditions, sleep apnea, and depression.
Obese patients are much more likely to suffer heart attacks, strokes, and early death. Unlike being overweight, there’s a strong sense of urgency with obese patients as they are often required to lose weight for their immediate survival. While some health conditions brought on by obesity may not be entirely reversible, losing weight dramatically improve your health and longevity. If you fall into the obesity category, medical weight loss can help you break this very harmful cycle. Obesity treatment is normally a more comprehensive strategy focused on life-saving interventions and reformation of mechanisms that prompt overeating over the long-term. This usually deals with behaviors, lifestyle changes, mental health, switching to healthier coping strategies, and rapid weight loss methods.
Knowing where you stand is key to maintaining a long, healthy life so don’t be afraid to check your BMI. No matter whether you’re overweight or obese, understand that both are completely treatable with the right help.