How do I know if I am obese?
The best way to determine whether you are clinically obese or not is to check your body mass index (BMI). Your BMI is a number that is calculated based on your weight and height, and when compared with a BMI chart will tell you whether your weight range is normal for your age and height.
You can calculate your BMI yourself by Dividing your weight in pounds, by your height squared. Then multiply by 703. The resulting number will be your BMI. If you are not savvy in the maths department then you can easily find many BMI calculators on the internet which will do this for you.
I have my BMI, what next?
So you have your BMI, now your wondering what that number means. Well, a BMI between 18 and 25 is considered to be normal, as in your weight is accepted to be 'healthy' for a person of your age and height. If your BMI is between 25 and 30, this is generally considered to be overweight, although maybe not life threatening, a BMI within this range will certainly have detrimental effects to your health. A BMI of 30 to 39 signifies obesity, while a BMI of 40 and over is considered to be morbidly obese. Both of which are a significant danger to your health and drastically reduce lifespan.
Obesity is when someone is carrying too much body weight (fat) for their height, age and sex. (BMI values are slightly different for men and women). Obesity generally happens when someone consumes more calories than their body can burn off, for a prolonged period of time. The rate at which your body can burn off calories is known as your Metabolic Rate. Your metabolic rate is normally accelerated during puberty, or times of growth spurts, but by the time you reach adulthood your metabolism should be at a reasonably steady rate.
People who are more active normally have a higher metabolic rate than those who are less active because they burn off more calories quicker due to more energetic pursuits. For an example, you could say an olympic swimmer might need something like 7000 to 8000 calories a day to maintain an even body weight. They are unlikely to put on any weight at all since their energetic activity burns off most excess calories their bodes have.
In contrast, a person who works at home and doesn't do much physical activity might only need around 1500 calories a day to maintain an even body weight, so it goes without saying your calorie intake should be directly related to how physical a person you are, and any imbalance in this will cause you to either gain or lose weight.
If your daily calorie intake is higher than what your body can burn off, then your body will store the excess as fat. This is your bodies way of protecting you incase of starvation. In our day and age though (in developed societies) starvation is rare, so this safeguard against 'hard times' is rarely needed – if at all. The truth of the matter is, most of us have more food than we will ever need, and much of this food comes in much higher calories than our bodies are designed to cope with. High calorie snacks, fast food, greasy food, large portions – all of these mean it is increasingly easier and easier to take in more energy than we will ever need.
Unfortunately Obesity is life threatening. Once a certain weight is obtained, it becomes increasingly harder to stop the increase in weight. The heavier you get, the harder it is to pursue physical activities and burn off those excess calories. The stomach becomes larger, so an obese person will feel hungry much more than a person with a normal BMI does. Starvation is not a cure, as this causes severe energy drops, fatigue and can be fatal. Obese people are also much more likely to have heart failure, liver problems, kidney problems and a whole range of other medical conditions.
This is why Obesity results in so many surgeries worldwide. Many people leave the dieting process too late and have to rely on surgical procedures to help them lose weight. Surgery of course does not 'cure' the problem, and is prone to further complications. Needless to say, a good, stable, healthy dieting program – implemented as early as possible, is the best way to fight obesity and slowly reduce excess weight.