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Monday, May 16, 2011

Tip: Understand Your BMI

Obesity; ugh, what an ugly word. The only thing uglier is the term “morbidly obese.” People are considered morbidly obese when their weight significantly increases their risk of health issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart attack. I had heard that morbidly obese people weigh at least one hundred or more pounds over their ideal weight for their height. When I began my food plan, I thought I was tottering close to the label of morbidly obese, at about ninety or more pounds above my ideal weight.

Is obesity a personal opinion, however, or is there a way to determine what’s constitutes obesity? I’ve become a walking encyclopedia on the subject of weight loss, lately, and from all that I’ve read, doctors apparently determine whether a person is obese by calculating the person’s body mass index (BMI), which compares the person’s height to his or her weight.

According to the sources I found, obese folks have a BMI of 30.0 and above, and one source says the morbidly obese have a BMI of 40 to 49.9 According to these figures, I used to have a BMI of 43.4, so I didn’t totter close to the line of being morbidly obese, I stumbled right over it. I am now, at 190, at a BMI of 33.7. According to my BMI, then, I’m still obese, but not morbidly obese, which is a true life-or-death improvement.

Friends who see me now say I look great, but there’s a big difference between being within medical guidelines and simply looking better than I did when I was morbidly obese. I will have to weigh 140 to reach a BMI that says I am “normal” weight. Although I’ve been at a plateau for a while, I am still shooting for 150, which would give me a BMI of 26.6. According to the BMI scale, I will still be overweight, but much closer to the normal range.

The fact remains that my body has never been small. I have wide shoulders and hips, so my frame begs for more weight. At least I’ve always thought so, and I’ve never been a tiny person, even when I was young.

According one BMI scale I found, you’re considered underweight if your BMI is below 18.5. You’re within the normal range if your BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. The overweight are between 25.0 and 29.9, and the morbidly obese have a BMI of 30.0 and above.

Another BMI scale said normal people have a BMI of 18.5 to 25 and the overweight have a BMI of 25.0 to 30.0. The two scales agree that a BMI of 30.0 is obese, but this scale goes on and says that a BMI of above 40 is considered severely obese, and a BMI of over 50 is super obese. Oh, super obese sounds so much better than being morbidly obese, right?

I know, death is a morbid subject, and I know that being overweight can lead to health problems and early death. I’m having way too much fun to succumb to early death just because I love popcorn. I’ve learned to love salads more than popcorn, and my story continues, as does my life.

To calculate your BMI, you can use the quick calculator at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the US Department of Health and Human Services, at Send me an e-mail to report your BMI after you’ve used the calculator. Let’s lower our BMIs together.

1 comment:

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