Overweight refers to an excess of body weight, but not necessarily body fat. Obesity means an excessively high proportion of body fat. Health professionals use a measurement called body mass index (BMI) to classify an adult's weight as healthy, overweight, or obese. BMI describes body weight relative to height and is correlated with total body fat content in most adults.
To get your approximate BMI, multiply your weight in pounds by 703, then divide the result by your height in inches, and divide that result by your height in inches a second time. A BMI from 18.5 up to 25 is considered in the healthy range, from 25 up to 30 is overweight and 30 or higher is obese. Generally, the higher a person's BMI, the greater the risk for health problems.
However, there are some exceptions. For example, very muscular people, like body builders, may have a BMI greater than 25 or even 30, but this reflects increased muscle rather than fat. Excess body fat leads to the health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
In addition to a high BMI, having excess abdominal body fat is a health risk. Men with a waist of more than 40 inches around and women with a waist of 35 inches or more are at risk for health problems.
Obesity, once thought by many to be a moral failing, is now often classified as a disease. It is a complex chronic disease involving social, behavioral, cultural, physiological, metabolic, and genetic factors. Although experts may have different theories on how and why people become overweight, they generally agree that losing weight is essential in order to achieve ultimate health.
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