Written by Emily McBride (last updated October 15, 2009)
The simple meaning of obesity is too much body fat. It is natural and necessary to have some fat in the body, but too much, especially around the waist, is not healthy. Besides making a person feel unattractive and uncomfortable, obesity also brings along dangerous health risks. Some of these risks include stroke, Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, gall bladder disease, and osteoarthritis. Many of these risks are heart related: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attacks, and heart failure.
One way that obesity is measured is by measuring the waist circumference. Forty inches or higher is dangerous for men, and thirty-five inches or higher is dangerous for women. Another way to measure obesity that is usually more common is by calculating the BMI (Body Mass Index). This calculation uses your height, your weight, and your sex, so it is not always entirely accurate (ie: muscle weighs more than fat does, so a body builder might be classified as obese even though they have a very small percentage of fat on his or her body). However, your BMI can still give you a relatively close idea if your weight is in a healthy range or not. The higher the BMI, the more associated risks you will likely suffer from. The classification of BMI ranges sometimes varies, but an average BMI range is as follows:
Obviously, the best thing to do is to go to your doctor. They will be able to run some tests that will show if you are truly overweight or obese or not. The best way to truly measure obesity and body weight is by finding out the percentage of fat that is in your body. A doctor, a weight loss center, or a gym should be able to help you do this. Once you know if you are overweight or obese, it's time to start trying to fix that. The body gains weight when the calorie intake (food) is greater than the calorie output (exercise); the body loses weight when the calorie output is greater than the calorie intake. So, to lose weight you need to try to eat less and exercise more. Many diets and weight loss programs exist to help you with your goals. Before you give up, remember how much healthier and enjoyable life can be when you are a healthy weight.
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