Being Overweight: How Is It Calculated?
Being overweight is when our body weight increases above a given threshold. It’s a condition in which the person accumulates fat in an abnormal or excessive way that can be harmful to health.
Since 1975, obesity and being overweight have tripled worldwide. In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults aged 18 and over were overweight, of which more than 650 million were classed as obese.
To find out whether or not a person is overweight, their BMI is calculated, which is the most useful measure to determine excess weight and obesity in the adult population.
What is the BMI?
This index is a method used to estimate the amount of body fat that a person has. Ultimately, it serves to determine if the weight is within the normal range or, on the contrary, if the person is overweight or malnourished.
Therefore, to calculate it, the height and current weight of the person are related. This mathematical formula was devised by the Belgian statistician Adolphe Quetelet, which is why it’s also known as the Quetelet Index or Body Mass Index (BMI).
Currently, BMI is being used less because it doesn’t differentiate between body fat and muscle mass, which makes it rather inaccurate. For example, if we take into account the BMI of an athlete without taking other measurements, these people would almost always be overweight, since muscle mass weighs more than fat.
How is it calculated?
To calculate the BMI, a formula is used that divides the weight, always expressed in kilograms, by the height, which will always be in meters and squared.
Nutritionists emphasize that it’s important not to apply the same values in children and adolescents as in adults. To carry out this calculation in children, percentiles are used. These are an average that establishes the weight of the child and is related to their peers of age and sex, within the same area.
If it’s average, then they’re of adequate weight; if it’s above, they would be in a high percentage, and would be between “overweight” and “obese”. If it’s below, then they would be classified as underweight.
For most adults, an ideal BMI is in the range of 18.5 and 24.9.
Causes of being overweight
Being overweight or obese is usually a hereditary condition. Some people have a genetic tendency to gain weight more easily than others. While genes greatly influence body type and size, the environment also plays an important role in the development of being overweight.
Maybe you are also interested in reading: What Is Biological Inheritance?
Today, people are gaining weight due to unhealthy food choices, such as fast foods. Another cause is family habits, such as eating in front of the television instead of around a table.
On the other hand, high-calorie, low-nutrient snacks and drinks, larger servings, and sedentary lifestyles also contribute to the obesity epidemic.
Sometimes people turn to food for emotional reasons, such as feeling heartbroken, anxious, sad, stressed, or even bored. When this happens, they tend to eat more than necessary.
Health problems related to being overweight
Being overweight is a condition that is harmful to health, both for the body and for the mind. Not only can it make a person feel tired and uncomfortable, but having to carry more weight puts more stress on the body, especially the bones and joints of the legs.
Overweight children and teens are more likely to develop diabetes and other health problems. In this sense, overweight adults are more likely to have heart disease.
Some problems associated with this condition include:
- Asthma: Weight-related breathing problems can make it harder for you to keep up with your friends, play sports, or just walk from place to place.
- Sleep apnea: This disorder, in which the patient stops breathing momentarily during sleep, is a serious problem for many overweight children and adults. People who suffer from it feel tired and their ability to concentrate and learn suffers.
- High blood pressure: If this problem persists over time, it can damage the heart and arteries.
Other problems associated with being overweight
In addition to those mentioned above, some of the following complications may also occur:
- High levels of cholesterol, which increases the chances of having a heart attack or stroke.
- Gallstones: These are a collection of bile that hardens in the gallbladder and forms gallstones. They can be painful and require surgery.
- Fatty liver: If fat builds up in the liver, it can cause inflammation, scarring, and permanent liver damage.
- Muscle and joint pain.
- Slipped capital femoral epiphysis: This is a painful problem of the hip that requires immediate attention and surgery to avoid further damage to the joint.
- Diabetes and insulin resistance: Insulin is a hormone that lowers the level of glucose in the blood. When there’s too much body fat, insulin is less effective at getting glucose, which is the body’s main source of energy, into cells. The body needs more insulin to maintain a normal blood sugar level. In some overweight teens, insulin resistance ends up leading to diabetes.
How can we avoid being overweight?
As we can see, there are many problems that being overweight brings. For this reason, it’s essential to follow a series of recommendations in order to avoid this increasingly common problem in developed countries.
Therefore, some recommendations to follow in order to prevent this condition are:
- Limit the consumption of foods that are rich in sugars and fats.
- Eat fruits and vegetables several times a day.
- Do frequent physical activity: it’s recommended to start by walking 30 minutes a day at a brisk pace.
- No smoking.
Read also: Health and Good Habits
It’s important to see a doctor and a nutritionist for advice. Sometimes, these problems aren’t solved only with a change of habits, but with more specific therapies, such as the administration of medications that tend to limit the absorption of fats and decrease the appetite.It might interest you...
- OMS, (organización Mundial de la Salud). (2015). OMS | Obesidad y sobrepeso. 311.
- Organizacion Mundial de la Salud (OMS). (2012). Obesidad y Sobrepeso. https://doi.org/http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/es/
- Cañete Estrada, R., & Gil Campos, M. (2007). Obesidad. Pediatria Integral.