June 2, 2011
Featured on nytimes.com
Body Mass Index
B.M.I. is a reliable indicator of total body fat, which is related to the risk of life-threatening diseases. The score is valid for both men and women, but it may overestimate body fat in athletes and others who have a muscular build. It may also underestimate body fat in older people and others who have lost muscle mass.
To determine your B.M.I.: Click on link below for BMI Calculator
Below 18.5 – Underweight
18.5 – 24.9 – Normal
25.0 – 29.9 – Overweight
30.0 and above – Obese
If your B.M.I. is greater than 25, the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute recommends losing weight, particularly if you have a high waist measurement or other risk factors for disease (see below). Even a small weight loss (just 10 percent of your current weight) will help to lower your risk of developing diseases associated with obesity. If you are overweight, but do not have a high waist measurement and have fewer than two risk factors, you may need to prevent further weight gain rather than lose weight.
According to the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, waist circumference is a good indicator of abdominal fat, which is another predictor of your risk for developing hypertension, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and other conditions.
Determine your waist circumference by placing a measuring tape snugly around your waist. Risk increases with a waist measurement greater than 40 inches (102 centimeters) in men and greater than 35 inches (88 centimeters) in women. The risk is considered high to extremely high for people with excessive waist circumference, particularly when their B.M.I. is in the overweight or obese range. Some people who are not classified as overweight may also be at risk if their waist measurements exceed the limit noted above.
Other Risk Factors
Besides having a B.M.I. over 25 or a high waist circumference, there are additional disease risk factors to consider:
• high blood pressure (hypertension)
• high LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol)
• low HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol)
• high triglycerides
• high blood glucose (sugar)
• family history of premature heart disease
• physical inactivity
• cigarette smoking