Obesity is a condition in which the amount of fat accumulated and stored in the body exceeds healthy limits. How far these fat stores exceed the healthy limits determines the level of obesity. There are several methods used to test for obesity.
The first and most widely used method for determining obesity is the body mass index or BMI. BMI is a number based on the relationship of height to weight. The body mass index is calculated using the formula BMI = ( Weight in Pounds / ( Height in inches ) x ( Height in inches ) ) x 703. Don’t worry if you don’t like to do the math there are many resources online that have a BMI calculator. The BMI is flawed in some areas as in the case of athletes who’s BMI may show them as overweight even though they have very little body fat. The world health organization guidelines state that a BMI between 25-30 is overweight, 30-40 is obese, and over 40 is morbidly obese. Because there are not any special tools required for calculation, body mass index is generally the fist choice in determining obesity.
Other measurements such as waist circumference and waist to hip ratio are used to get a better idea of the actual amount of excess fat stores. As yet another alternative a skin fold is measured with a precision caliper to determine the body fat percentage.
Some other methods used to determine obesity may include CAT scan, MRI or even measuring body weight underwater. Due to the equipment required to perform these tests they are cost prohibitive and are not often used.
Another factor that should be explored when researching what obesity is are the causes. Most times obesity is associated with simple over consumption of calories. If you eat more food and expend less energy you will become obese. While this is indeed true there are other factors that may cause or exacerbate this condition. Obviously metabolism is a big factor, but other things to take into account are medications, illness, psychological problems, and even genetics. While obesity is not hereditary a predisposition for obesity is.
On a final note what obesity is not, obesity is not always laziness or lack of trying on the part of the obese person. Obesity is not something that deserves ridicule and shame. Obesity is a problem that plagues many people in the United States and abroad, hopefully with further research on obesity, more tools will be added to the arsenal of those struggling with their weight.