Am I obese?

As famous this word is, so it has lots of definitions, identifications and classifications. Obesity is a trigger which when pulled takes us towards such lifestyle disorders which decrease our quality of life. A number of measures have been suggested for computing the risk or to find out whether a person falls in the obese bracket.

Shall we find out the answer to the query: Am I obese?

Doctors, scientists and people working in the health care field have suggested diverse formulae and theories to ascertain obesity in classes. These theories and formulae measure different aspects and have their own benefits and shortcomings.

Body Mass Index (BMI) is the one such formula which has found wide acceptance. It is calculated as Weight (kg) / height (squared) (m2) and assesses body weight relative to height. It is a useful, indirect measure of body composition because in most people it correlates highly with body fat.

With a BMI of

You are considered

Less than 18.5


18.5 – 22.9

Normal Weight

23 – 24.9


25 or above


BMI is not considered valid for infants, children, teenagers, pregnant or nursing women, adults over 65 years of age, very muscular people & endurance athletes such as runners.

Another technique finding popularity nowadays is Body Composition Analysis or BCA (For more on BCA). For all such conditions where BMI does not hold true BCA comes in at the rescue. Take a look at the following example:

These men have the same height, weight & BMI, but have different per cent body fat. Just one look at them and you can judge who is healthy and who is not but going by BMI both come in the overweight category. At this point, BCA helps us in finding how much per cent of our body weight is fat. The man in blue apart from having a higher BMI also seems to be suffering from abdominal obesity.

Abdominal obesity can be judged by taking waist circumference measurements in adult men and women. Waist circumference values should be less than 90 cm for males and less than 80 cm for females. Most important complications of obesity are linked to upper body fat rather than overall adiposity which means that fat deposition around the waist is far more dangerous compared to overall fat deposition.

Waist circumference can be used alone as an index or can be clubbed with hip circumference to ascertain the risk of heart diseases in people. Defined as waist to hip ratio or WHR should be >0 .80 for females and > 0.90 for males to steer away from these risks.

Little technical though and majorly used for research and field purposes Skin Fold thickness is another tool which helps in assessing subcutaneous fat (fat layer under the skin) thickness. It requires training to accurately measure SFT with specialized calipers. Fat prefers few locations for its deposition which can be measured to find out normal or excessive fat deposition.  Sites usually measured include biceps, triceps, sub-scapular (below the shoulder blade), suprailiac (lower abdomen), thigh and calf.

The stingiest classification of weight which might lead numerous people to end up in overweight / obese category is Ideal body weight. It is a gender and height specific formulae which calculates the actual weight that a person should have on the current height. If your weight is more than 10% of IBW you come in the overweight bracket and a piece of bad news if it is more than 20%.

In most cases, a look at the person can tell whether the person is obese or not. Visual Inspection usually tells us the pattern of fat deposition in the body. Fat deposition around the area of and above the waist is commonly called as apple type obesity/android / male pattern obesity and weight gained around the hips and thigh area is pear type obesity/gynoid / female pattern obesity. Apple obesity is considered more dangerous than pear type because the type of fat cells deposited in this type are potentially more viable for causing lifestyle disorders.

Obesity a condition which takes away health, wealth and confidence from the sufferer is easy to diagnose. And with all these formulae and classifications it surely can be caught early. It depends on us whether we want to nip the bud in the early stages or wait till the weight blows out of proportion. What do you say: Are you obese??

Image Courtesy: Tumisu from Pixabay


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