We are all familiar with being overweight and many of us will have experienced being overweight. Many of us are indeed more or less permanently overweight and simply chose to ignore the fact or to live with it. But when does between being overweight become a case of being clinically obese?
The simple answer would of course be to say that obesity is nothing more than a matter of being very overweight but, unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than that.
Gaining a few pounds won’t do you any real harm and, aside from your clothes feeling a little tight there is even a school of thought that believes that carrying a bit of extra weight may actually be good for you.
In fact, there are even some studies which show that death rates are lower amongst people who are slightly overweight, although there is some debate as to whether or not this is really related to weight or stems from other factors which are frequently seen in individuals who are overweight.
Once your weight passes a certain point, so that you are now carrying enough additional weight to be classed as being clinically obese, you start to run the risk of developing a number of health problems as a result of your extra weight. Indeed, should your weight continue to rise, these health problems can become life-threatening and your condition will then be classed as morbid obesity.
So, how do you know whether you are merely overweight or are clinically obese?
The main measure of obesity was developed by Adolphe Quetelet, a Belgian statistician and anthropometrist, and is known as the measurement of body mass index, or BMI. Your BMI is calculated by taking your weight in kilograms and dividing it by the square of your height in meters. So, if you are 1.6 meters tall and weigh 65 kilograms your BMI would be 25.4 [65 / (1.6 x 1.6)].
A BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9 is said to be normal while a BMI of between 25.0 and 29.9 would indicate that you are overweight. Once you reach a BMI of 30 you are classed as being obese and, if your BMI reaches or exceeds 40 you are morbidly obese.
BMI is however only a general guide to obesity and there are circumstances in which you can have a BMI below 30 and still be clinically obese or have a BMI above 30 and not to be classed as being obese. A lean but muscular individual, for example, could have a BMI above 30 but with his excess weight being provided by muscle rather than by fat.
Calculate your own BMI: