Understanding how overweight you are can help with the motivation and monitoring of your weight loss efforts. By using the body mass index (BMI) equation, you can calculate a relatively good estimation of how overweight you are. Because the BMI equation can be limited in its scope, however, you may also want to measure your waist circumference to determine whether you’re overweight.
Using BMI to Assess Your Weight Class
The BMI equation gives you information on your category of weight based on your current height and weight values. Use the BMI equation to calculate your BMI: [weight in pounds / height in inches squared] X 703. If your BMI score is less than 18.5, you’re considered underweight. If your BMI falls between 18.5 and 24, you’re considered within the healthy weight range. If your BMI score is between 25 and 29.9, you fall into the overweight category, and if your score is 30 or higher, you fall into the obese range. For example, if you are sixty-six inches tall and currently weigh 200 pounds, your BMI score is 32.3 and you fall into the obese category.
Estimated Pounds Overweight
Although BMI won’t give you the exact number of pounds that you’re considered overweight, you can flip it around and use it to give you an estimation. Because you know that you need a BMI score of at least 24.9 to be considered within the healthy range, you can use that same BMI equation to get an idea of how many pounds you would need to be to achieve that score. Then, by subtracting the weight attributed with a 24.9 BMI score from your current weight, you get how many pounds overweight you are.
Use the following equation to determine how much you would need to weigh to get a score of 24.9 and thus fall below the overweight category: [24.9 X height in inches squared] / 703. Using this equation and the same example above, a person who is sixty-six inches tall would need to weigh 154 pounds to get a BMI score of 24.9. Therefore, by subtracting 154 from 200, it can be determined that he is about 46 pounds overweight.
Concerns Regarding BMI
Although BMI is relatively easy to calculate, its value is somewhat limited because it doesn’t take into account your body fat percentage. Two people could both be sixty-six inches tall and weigh 200 pounds, but while one could actually be obese as their BMI score would suggest, the other may not be because his weight is made up of a higher percentage of lean muscle tissue. Athletes and serious lifters who carry a significant amount of muscle often fall into the overweight or obese BMI categories even though they don’t need to lose fat.
Another quick and effective way to determine if you’re overweight is to measure the circumference of your waist. Women who are not pregnant and have a waist circumference of 35 inches or more are considered overweight and are at risk of developing obesity-related health issues. Men with a waist circumference of greater than 40 inches are considered at risk. To measure your waist, use a vinyl tape measure and wrap it around your waist, just above your hip bones. While this won’t provide specific information on how many pounds overweight you are, it will quickly tell you if you need to make efforts to get more precise information and perhaps lose fat.
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