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|What Is Obesity?
Obesity means having an excess of body fat. It has long been defined as weighing 20 percent or more over the ideal weight for your height. It is not the same as weighing too much. It's quite possible for a woman to exceed the ideal weight for her height and still not have excess body fat if that weight is made up of heavy bones and muscles. However, in general people who are significantly overweight also tend to be obese, which is why the terms (obese and over-weight) are used interchangeably.
How Do I Know If I Am Obese?
One method of calculating if you are obese is called the body mass index (BMI). This indicates how much muscles comes from bones and muscles and how much from fat.
Calculate Your Body Mass Index
1. Simply divide your weight (pounds) by your height (inches) squared (multiplied by itself).
2. Multiply the result by 705.
For example, if you weigh 160 pounds with a height of 5 feet 4 inches (64 inches), the body mass index formula runs:
Step 1: (160 pounds) divided by (64 x 64 = 4096) = 0.039
Step 2: 0.039 x 705 = 27.4
Result: Your body mass index is 27.4 (overweight).
Or you could just cheat and use our calculator!
BMI Rates: Normal Weight, Overweight or Obesity
Underweight: BMI less than 18.5.
Normal weight: BMI of 19 to 24.9.
Overweight: BMI 25 to 29.9.
Obese: BMI 30 to 39.9.
Morbidly obese: BMI over 40.
BMI Limitations: BMI is not always the best way to determine if you need to lose weight. For example, it is not a good way to evaluate children (a pediatrician can do this) or body builders (because muscle weighs more than fat). In the elderly it is often better to have a BMI between 25 and 27 than under 25. If you are aged over 65 for example, a slightly higher BMI may protect you from developing brittle bones (osteoporosis) which can lead to fractures.
Obesity Statistics (United States)
• 35 percent, more than one-third of American adults are obese.
• In the past more women were obese than men (In 2000, 27.5 percent of men vs. 35.5 percent of women), but men have caught up. Today the rate is 35.5 percent for both men and women.
• 42 percent of women aged over 60 are obese compared to 32 percent aged 20 to 30.
• The annual medical costs for an obese person are $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.
• The lowest state-rate of obesity is in Colorado (20.7 percent) and the highest is in Mississippi (34.9 percent). The fattest states are: Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Michigan, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia.
Risk Of Health Problems Associated With Obesity
||Risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, some cancers, early death.
|Under 19 (underweight)
|19 to 25 (normal)
||Very low risk.
|26 to 27: (a little overweight)
|| Some risk.
|27 to 32: (overweight)
|| Moderate risk.
|32 to 45: (severely overweight)
||Very high risk.
Although scientists don't always agree on the exact effects of obesity, what they do agree on is that obesity is dangerous. During childbearing years it can increase estrogen production (see, effects of estrogen) leading to reproductive system disorders such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, polyps and even infertility. After menopause it can cause a series of life-threatening disorders such as osteoarthritis, heart disease, diabetes, gallbladder disease, hypertension, breast cancer and endometrial cancer. It also raises the risks of other cancers: kidney, ovarian cancer, liver, esophageal, colorectal and cervical cancer. The higher your BMI, the higher your risk of dying from cancer.
How Is Obesity Treated?
Diet and Exercise: There is no easy way to convert an obese woman into a lean one. To lose one pound of fat you need to eat 3,500 calories less than normal. If you need to lose 50 pounds, this means you need to produce a calorie deficit of 175,000 calories. In practice, eating 500 calories fewer every day should produce about 1 pound weight loss a week. Weight loss is a commitment. It is estimated that 40 percent of American women are dieting at any one time. Studies seem to suggest that the vast majority of them will not lose weight over the long haul. Fad diets and diet drugs may help people lose weight in the short-term but most of it is gained back quickly when the medications or diet are discontinued. Doctors usually recommended joining a weight loss class which is aimed at re-educating eating habits and introducing exercise for the long-term.
Medications: Obesity drugs may help obese people with a history of weight loss and regain. These include appetite suppressants (Ionamin, Fastin, Adipex-P, Meridia) as well as fat-blockers like Xenical.
Weight Loss Surgery: Only considered as a last resort, particularly if the woman has 100 pounds or more to lose. The most popular type of weight loss surgery is called gastric bypass surery (also called bariatric surgery) - it is being increasingly performed and is often covered by health insurance. The procedure involves dividing the stomach in two so that you feel full more quickly. Yet, it is a serious operation, 1 percent of patients die from complications and 8 percent suffer from ulcers or bowel obstructions.