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We are all different shapes and sizes. Some of us are big, while others are small. Some are tall and wiry, while others are short and stocky. How do you know what weight is best for you when there are so many different body types? There are a few tools that can be useful. The first is known as the body mass index, or BMI.

BMI

Body Mass Index is a useful tool, particularly as a screening tool. It is determined by your frame size, i.e. your height, and the amount of weight that height should support. The higher that number, the more body fat you have, and thus the greater the risk.

To calculate your BMI, first measure your height in inches (including fractions of an inch) and your weight in pounds. Then go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website and use the BMI calculator. For children and teenagers, enter your date of birth, the date you took your measurements, your gender, height, and weight, and then press calculate. Your BMI will be calculated automatically. There is also an adult BMI calculator for people over the age of twenty.

BMI RESULTS

Adults are considered to be in a healthy weight range if their BMI is less than 25, overweight if their BMI is between 25 and 30, and obese if their BMI is greater than 30. Children’s and adolescent scores are assigned to percentiles that vary according to age and gender.

A healthy range is considered to be between the 5th and 85th percentile. Overweight is defined as being above the 85th to 95th percentile, and obese is defined as being above the 95th percentile. People who have a BMI less than the fifth percentile are considered underweight.

There are also health risks associated with having too little body fat. It puts a strain on both your body and your heart. When you’re severely underweight, your heart has to work twice as hard. When you are underweight, your blood pressure is poorly regulated.

Obesity

The United States is currently considered one of the world leaders in terms of obesity. We are regarded as one of the major developed countries with a high prevalence of diabetes, high blood pressure, and other obesity-related health issues. Consider the percentage of obese children in the United States. Less than ten percent of children in the United States are obese, implying that we have a large number of children suffering from poor health as a result of obesity, but very few parents are aware of this fact.

Many of us consider our extra pounds in terms of how we’ll look in a bathing suit or that new pair of jeans. However, being overweight is more than just a cosmetic issue. Simply being 10 pounds overweight increases your chances of developing diabetes, heart disease and heart attacks, strokes, hypertension, and even some types of cancer. So, if we look at how long you’ve been overweight, it just adds to your risk. We are now seeing children as young as eight, nine, and ten years old develop what were previously considered adult-type diseases.

Apple vs Pear

The distribution of body fat has an impact on health risks as well. Do you consider yourself an apple or a pear? Apple shape is where you have the most body weight in your midsection, whereas pear shape has a smaller waist but larger hips, and being apple shaped is much worse in terms of your risk for cardiovascular disease than being pear shaped.

Many of the physical health consequences of excess body fat may take years to manifest. However, the psychological and social consequences of obesity are felt on a daily basis.

Discrimination exists in the workplace when it comes to promotions and even hiring. We’ve seen discrimination for college entrance exams that require a one-on-one interview. We’ve also seen children who are bullied and teased more frequently. All of this can have long-term consequences for long-term depression, low body image and body hate issues, and increased, even depressed immunities because your emotional well-being affects your physical health.

Health Risks

Diabetes rates in children and adolescents have skyrocketed as a result of the obesity epidemic. Children are now being diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and sleep apnea. As a result, all of the chronic diseases that are typically seen in adult populations are now being seen in children and adolescents. And it’s all linked to being overweight or obese.

Type 2 diabetes is a serious health condition, and an obese person is three times more likely to develop it than someone with a healthy body weight. The rise of type 2 diabetes has been astounding. We used to call it adult-onset diabetes because we only saw it in people over the age of 40. Of course, we’re now seeing it in children as young as ten. Nobody wants to take an insulin shot, and no one wants to check their blood sugars every day, but that is a realistic option if we continue with our current way of life.

Another troubling fact about obesity in America is that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in obese people. When you account for people who die from other obesity-related illnesses, such as cancer, it becomes clear that the number of deaths from heart disease is much higher than the number of people who are simply obese. This is very concerning because it clearly indicates that we must change our eating habits if we are to see a decrease in the number of obese children and adults.

Making Changes

What can we do to put an end to our country’s obesity epidemic? Here are some suggestions:

  • Through our schools, we can teach more about nutrition and proper body weight management. This means understanding how many calories are present in various foods and how it affects the body, what nutrients are found in specific foods, and what causes us to become ill when we overeat.
  • We can also help the community teach kids how to lose weight and be more active. There are a variety of community activities that promote physical fitness in children, in which parents can also participate. These activities should encourage people to be physically active and maintain a healthy weight.

Without action, it is predicted that by 2030, 33 percent of Americans will be classified as obese.

Final Thoughts

Obesity has become an epidemic in the United States, posing a serious health risk to people of all socioeconomic backgrounds. It already has numerous consequences, but we can begin now to make a change. Regular physical activity and a balanced, nutritious diet can help you maintain a healthy weight.

If you are overweight, don’t look to fad diets for help. Popular diets are frequently difficult to stick to, may restrict your nutritional intake, and rarely produce long-term results. People who are trying to lose weight may want to do so as quickly as possible, but the goal should be healthy weight loss rather than rapid weight loss.

Whatever category you’re in – underweight, healthy weight, overweight, or obese – you should talk to your doctor. Your doctor can assist you in determining your healthy body weight as well as ensuring your overall health.

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