Higher Than Hope

Most of us do not consider obesity as a serious disorder. Some of us consider it bad from the point of view of body appearance only, while others may think only in terms of reduced work capacity or inability for active participation in sports or other such activities. However, this is not all. Data gathered by Life Insurance Corporation shows that an obese individual has shorter life expectancy than the individual having normal weight. Obese individuals are more at risk of developing heart diseases or diabetes mellitus. These diseases are principle cause of death in obese individuals. The hazards of surgery, pregnancy and childbirth are more in obese individuals. Obesity can lead to various respiratory problems (breathing problems) also due to more stress on the respiratory system. After learning about such consequences aren’t you interested in knowing what is obesity all about?

  • What is Obesity?

Obesity refers to being fat or having excess fat in the body (i.e. more than that required for optimal functioning).

  • How is Obesity measured?

Everyone needs a certain amount of body fat for stored energy, heat insulation, shock absorption, and other functions. As a rule, women have more body fat than men. Most health care providers agree that men with more than 25 percent body fat and women with more than 30 percent body fat are obese. Measuring the exact amount of a person's body fat is not easy. The most accurate measures are to weigh a person underwater or to use an X-ray test called Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA). These methods are not practical for the average person, and are done only in research centers with special equipment. Because measuring a person's body fat is difficult, health care providers often rely on other means to diagnose obesity. Weight-for-height tables, which have been used for decades, usually have a range of acceptable weights for a person of a given height. One problem with these tables is that there are many versions, all with different weight ranges. Another problem is that they do not distinguish between excess fat and muscle. A very muscular person may appear obese, according to the tables, when he or she is not.
In recent years, body mass index (BMI) has become the medical standard used to measure overweight and obesity.

  • Body Mass Index

BMI uses a mathematical formula based on a person's height and weight. BMI equals weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared (BMI = kg/m2). The BMI table that follows has already calculated this information. Although the BMI ranges shown in the table are not exact ranges of healthy and unhealthy weight, they are useful guidelines. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 indicates a person is overweight. A person with a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese. Like the weight-to-height table, BMI does not show the difference between excess fat and muscle. BMI, however, is closely associated with measures of body fat. It also predicts the development of health problems related to excess weight. For these reasons, BMI is widely used by health care providers.

BMI =     Weight in Kilograms  
   (Height in Meters)²

BMI Range for Westerns
Status BMI
Underweight Below 18.5
Normal 18.5-24.9
Overweight 25-29.9
Obese 30 and Above

  • Body Fat Distribution: "Pears" vs. "Apples"

Health care providers are concerned not only with how much fat a person has, but also where the fat is located on the body. Women typically collect fat in their hips and buttocks, giving them a "pear" shape. Men usually build up fat around their bellies, giving them more of an "apple" shape. Of course some men are pear-shaped and some women become apple-shaped, especially after menopause. If you carry fat mainly around your waist, you are more likely to develop obesity-related health problems. Women with a waist measurement of more than 35 inches or men with a waist measurement of more than 40 inches have a higher health risk because of their fat distribution.