Weight, Weighty and Overweight

With increase in medical cautiousness among the masses, the prevalence of overweight is increasing rapidly. Overweight people are found in all the age brackets across the world. WHO defines overweight as “abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health.”

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According to WHO reports the prevalence of obesity doubled between 1980 and 2014 with 39% of adults (more than 18 years of age) being overweight in 2014. It is reported that in 2013, 42 million children were overweight. Obesity is emerging as new epidemic around the globe.

Consumption of energy dense foods with high fat content, sedentary lifestyle and medical illness are considered as the major cause of obesity.

Need to reduce weight

Obesity brings with it plethora of medical conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, respiratory diseases, musculoskeletal disorders, hormonal disturbances and cancers like breast, colon and endothelial cancer.

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Diagnosis of overweight

Diagnosis of overweight is important to determine the risk of developing the related diseases like cardiovascular, diabetes type 2, respiratory diseases, gall diseases, etc. Methods to diagnose the body weight are as follows:

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BMI: Health care providers use body mass index (BMI) as a parameter to determine if a person is overweight. It is the measure of body fat depending on weight and height of the person. You can figure out your BMI at National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s (NHLBI’s) BMI calculator. BMI is directly proportional to the risk of disease, i.e. the greater the BMI, the greater is the risk of diseases. Significance of BMI:

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18–24.9 = normal weight
25.0–29.9 = overweight
30.0–39.9 = obese
40.0 or above = extremely obese

BMI has the limitation that it does not figure out the body weight exactly in case of athletes who have more muscle mass and in case of elderly who have less muscle mass.

BMI in case of children of more than 2 years of age and teens is express in percentage. It is expressed as child’s BMI relative to the BMI of other children of same age and sex.
Children are considered:
Healthy if BMI = 5–85 percentile
Overweight if BMI = 85–95 percentile
Obese if BMI is more than 95 percentile

Waist circumference:

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Women with a waist measurement of more than 80 cm and men with more than 94 cm are more at the risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. To find your waist circumference, place the tape around your middle, just above the hip bones and measure at exhalation.

Waist-to-hip circumference ratios:

Healthcare professionals state that people with more fat at belly than at hips are more likely to have life style diseases like heart diseases and diabetes. To measure the waist, place the tape around the belly button while standing and for hips place the tape around broad parts of hip. Ratio of more 1 and of more than 0.85 is alarming for men and women, respectively.

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Thickness of a skinfold (a pinch of skin and fat):

According to a study conducted by Etchison et al., measuring the thickness of skin fold is more accurate method for determining the obesity as compared to BMI. This method is used to measure the body composition. There are majorly seven sites for this test. The tester pinches the double layer of skin with calipers.

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Diagnostic tests such as blood test which determine cholesterol, fasting sugar, liver function test, thyroid, etc. and techniques such as ultrasound are found to be more precise than BMI.