• Consumption of more food than the body can use
• Excess alcohol intake
• Sedentary lifestyle
Assessing Your Risk
Three key measures are used in assessing overweight:
• Body mass index (BMI)
• Waist circumference
• Risk factors for diseases and conditions associated with obesity
The BMI is a measure of your weight in relation to your height, and your waist circumference measures your abdominal fat. Combining these with information about your additional risk factors will give you an idea of your risk for developing obesity-associated diseases.
What is your risk?
Body Mass Index (BMI)
BMI is a reliable indicator of total body fat, which is linked to the risk of disease and death. However, while the score is valid, it may overestimate body fat in those with a muscular build, and it may underestimate body fat in older persons or others without much muscle mass.
Your waist circumference (which you can find by placing a measuring tape snugly around your waist) is a good indicator of your abdominal fat. This is another predictor of developing risk for heart disease and other illnesses. This risk increases with a waist measurement of over 40 inches in men and over 35 inches in women.
Risk of obesity-associated diseases
The combination of your BMI and your waist circumference informs you of an increased risk for developing obesity-associated diseases or conditions.
Other risk factors
Besides being overweight or obese, other risk factors are important to consider:
• High blood pressure (hypertension)
• High LDL-cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol)
• Low HDL-cholesterol ("good" cholesterol)
• High triglycerides
• High blood glucose (sugar)
• Family history of premature heart disease
• Physical inactivity or a sedentary lifestyle
• Cigarette smoking
For obese or overweight people who have two or more risk factors, federal guidelines recommend weight loss. Even a small weight loss (such as 10 percent of your current weight) lowers your chance of developing diseases associated with obesity. Patients who are overweight but have less than 2 risk factors and do not have a high waist measurement may just need to prevent further weight gain rather than lose weight.
Ask your doctor to evaluate your BMI, waist measurement and others risk factors for heart disease. He can let you know your level of risk and whether you should lose weight.
Obesity. Last reviewed 12/31/1969
- Center for Disease Control
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
- National Institutes of Health - National Library of Medicine
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases.