The terms obese and overweight are used a lot in the media, but what is the difference?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determines the difference using body mass index or BMI. An adult with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight, and a BMI higher than 30 is considered obese.
“This measurement does not measure body fat percentage, it is strictly a correlation between your height and weight,” says Gaylynn Crosby, manager of Wellness Services at CoxHealth in Springfield.
Another measurement tool and predictor of cardiovascular disease is the waist-to-hip ratio. To determine the ratio, divide the measurement of your natural waist (approximately the belly button) by your hip measurement. Crosby says the ideal ratio for women is at or below .9 and for men, it is at or below 1.
Obesity and being overweight are becoming more prevalent. Physicians are seeing more overweight kids and these kids are more likely to maintain that excess weight as they become adults, making them at risk for chronic diseases.
“A person who is overweight or obese is at an increased risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, which all can lead to heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States and a major cause of disability,” says Susan Graves, M.D., family medicine physician. “These individuals are also at risk for sleep apnea and depression, and osteoarthritis in their joints because of the wear and tear from extra weight.”
Lifestyle changes to help prevent these diseases include proper nutrition and regular exercise. Even a small weight loss of 10 percent can positively affect a person’s health and make them feel better, Graves says.
“Move more and eat less,” Crosby adds. “Take a walk with family and friends, share an entrée at a restaurant, drink more water and watch food portion sizes. We have to make conscious efforts to be healthy.”
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