The most popular method is using the BMI (body mass index) which gives an indication of how in proportion your weight is to your height.
The formula used is:
your current weight (in kg) / height squared (in metres)
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) the BMI categories are:
The healthy weight range is a BMI between 18.5kg/m2 - 24.99kg/m2
An Overweight BMI is between 25kg/m2 - 29.99kg/m2
An Obese Category 1 BMI is between 30kg/m2 - 34.99kg/m2
An Obese Category 2 BMI is between 35kg/m2 - 39.99kg/m2
An Obese Category 3 BMI is 40kg/m2 and over
Asian/Indian/South American populations have different cut-offs based on their cultural influences which can also be obtained from the WHO website.
For example, if you are 180cm tall and 92kg your BMI would be:
92 / 1.8 (squared) = 28kg/m2 (a BMI of 28, overweight)
Please note though, BMI does not take into account bone density, muscle mass or body shape. A Rugby player may have a BMI of 45 but this does not mean he is obese - he would have a large amount of muscle!
Another method is your waist circumference - this is a good indicator along with your BMI as to how much fat is being stored around your organs (visceral fat) and therefore your overall health risk for heart disease, diabetes etc
Generally, a male wants to be at or below 94cm and 80cm for a female.
It doesn't always have to be about your weight either - I've had clients within the healthy weight range with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. They are just as much at risk of a heart attack as an ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’ individual. Get regular check-ups with your GP and use your tests as another indicator of your health. Is your Blood pressure within normal limits? How is your cholesterol levels? Are your liver enzymes at normal levels? How are your blood sugar levels?
For more information go to the Australian Better Health Initiative website www.measureup.gov.au
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