Home » Understanding Overweight and Obesity

Understanding Overweight and Obesity

by icontrolmyhealth

According to the world health organization (WHO) report, overweight and obesity are the fifth leading threat to worldwide deaths. At least 2.8 million adults die each year as a result of being overweight or obese. Currently more than one billion adults are overweight and at least 300 million of them are clinically obese. Globally burden is increasing day by day.



Obesity is defined as excessive accumulation of body fat, which further increases the risk of chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, musculoskeletal disorders, and some cancers. For measuring total body fat, The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) guidelines recommend:

  • Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • Individual’s waist circumference
  • Other diseases related with obesity i.e. high blood pressure or physical inactivity

Body Mass Index (BMI)

BMI estimates total body fat based on your height and weight. To calculate your BMI, divide your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters (kg/m2) or you can either use the BMI table or BMI calculator to estimate your body fat.

The following table indicates your weight status based on your BMI:


Weight Status BMI (kg/m2) Comments
Underweight <18.5 You need to gain weight
Normal 18.5-24.9 Your weight is perfect. Maintain it
Overweight 25.0-29.9 Don’t gain weight, try to lose weight
Obese 30.0-34.0 Consult your doctor to lose weight


Limitations of BMI

Although BMI estimates the body fat, it has some limitations:

  • Athletes are more muscular but they don’t have excess body fat. As muscles always weigh heavier than fat, BMI test overestimates body fat in athletes, i.e. higher BMI although they have low body fat.
  • It may underestimate body fat in old age people.


Waist Circumference Measurement

According to the ‘Evidence Report’ by NHLBI, waist circumference is directly linked to the abdominal fat, which is an indicator of obesity-related diseases. If you have more fat around your waist, then you are at a higher risk of obesity-related heart diseases, diabetes, and dementia.

According to a study, increase in abdominal fat cells result in the over-production of amyloid precursor protein (APP) which plays a vital role in learning and memory. The accumulation of APP in brain leads to damage of brain cells which in turn causes dementia.

The risk increases with waist measurement.

  •  Greater than 35 inches (88 cm) for women
  •  Greater than 40 inches (102 cm) for men

If there are two people who have higher but same BMI, the one with a greater waist circumference has a greater likelihood of having health problems related to obesity.

How to Measure Waist Circumference?

You can measure your waist circumference easily at home. Just place the tape around your waist at your belly button level and note the waist circumference.

Was this Content Helpful?

Related Articles