Healthy eating

Self-perception of weight

According to the Centers for Disease Control ( CDC) we are all gaining weight. About one third of us are obese. The CDC measures obesity and overweight using a ratio of height to weight called the Body Mass Index (BMI). For the majority of adults, it provides an accurate assessment of whether weight is within a healthy range or not. However, there are some for whom BMI is not so useful a measure, because the measure of weight cannot differentiate between muscle or fat. For example, when a person is a very muscular athlete, or pregnant, or frail and elderly, or has muscle wasting, then the BMI may not be an appropriate measure for them. But often, it seems, people use the exceptions to BMI to rationalize their own overweight, and dismiss the BMI as an invalid measure and not applicable to them.

The hard fact is that sixty-eight percent of the population is either obese or overweight. That is the majority of people. So now that most of us fall into this category, has our perception of what counts as a normal healthy weight become skewed by what we see around us every day? If it was just a matter of personal aesthetics then weight gain would not matter; the trouble is that excess weight means increased risk of health problems. See here for health consequences of overweight

If you are not convinced about the value of BMI, another option is to measure your waist circumference. Women should have a waist measurement of less than 35 inches and men should have a waist measurement of less than 40 inches.

Check your BMI. If you have a BMI of:

  • Under 18 – you are very underweight and possibly malnourished.
  • Under 20 – you are underweight and could afford to gain a little weight.
  • 20 to 25 – you have a healthy weight range for young and middle-aged adults.
  • 26 to 30 – you are overweight.
  • Over 30 – you are obese.


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