HOW CAN I TELL IF I’M FAT?
Well, I guess you have an inkling. You maybe feel overweight, or slow, or your clothes are getting tighter. But how can we tell if we’re overweight and importantly how can we tell if we’re unhealthy with it?
BMI or body mass index is a promoted as a good way to tell if you’re a healthy weight. It involves a simple calculation of taking your weight in kilograms and dividing it by your height in metres squared:
60/2.99 = 20.1
According to BMI, this is a normal healthy weight for their height
However, although BMI is simple to use and easy to interpret, it’s prone to errors. For example a person who weight trains a lot and possesses a large amount of muscle mass may appear obese using BMI.
BMI is not able to distinguish between fat and lean mass, thus a heavy, muscly person is assumed to be ‘fat’.
Did you know that carrying excess fat per se isn’t as important as where it’s stored in the body? Your health could be at greater risk depending on where you store that fat.
Fat is stored all over the body, including under the skin and around the vital organs. However fat stored around the abdomen causes more health problems than, say, fat carried around the bottom or on the thighs.
Having a large amount of tummy fat (when compared to having fat around the bottom or thighs) makes you more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and heart problems (e.g Carr et al 2004 link).
Enter the waist-to-hip ratio…..
How to calculate waist-to-hip ratio
Working out the risk to your health is simple. Using a tape measure, take the following steps:
- Measure your waist
To find your true waist, feel for your hip bone on one side. Move upwards until you can feel the bones of your bottom rib. Halfway between is your waist. For most people this is where their tummy button is.
Use a mirror the first time to see what you’re doing and to make it easier to measure.
- Measure your hips
Hip circumference is measured at the point where the buttocks is maximally extended, when viewed from the side.
- Divide the waist number by the hip number
A ratio of 1.0 or more in men or 0.85 or more in women indicates that you are carrying too much weight around your middle. This puts you at increased risk of diseases that are linked to obesity, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
For women: For men:
- Ideal: less than 80cm (32″) Ideal: less than 94cm (37″)
- High: 80cm to 88cm (32″ to 35″) High: 94cm to 102cm (37″ to 40″)
- Very high: more than 88cm (35″) Very high: more than 102cm (40″)
What should you do if you’re carrying too much weight around your middle?
Get active! – Increase the amount of physical activity you do
Eat more healthily to lose weight
Get in touch if you’d like some help and an easy structured plan to do this.
Bray GA & Gray DS (1988) Obesity, Part I – Pathogenis, Western Journal of Medicine. 149; 429-441.
Welborn TA, Dhaliwal SS, & Bennett SA (2003). Waist–hip ratio is the dominant risk factor predicting cardiovascular death in Australia. The Medical Journal of Australia; 179 (11/12): 580-585.
YMCA of the USA (2000), YMCA Fitness Testing and Assessment Manual, 4th Edition