by The Non-Obsessive Way of Eating Company                      8 February 2018

 obese or overweight an opinion piece

Do you know if you are classed as normal, overweight or obese, and does it really matter? Normal weight is defined as a particular ratio between your height and your weight as calculated by the Body Mass Index (BMI). However at this stage it must be noted that a BMI reading is an indication only, and in some circles is a controversial one. As everyone is built differently, a BMI reading may not always be the best indicator of weight or overweight status. Some people are more heavily muscled than others, while some can be tall and slim. The BMI scale does not differentiate between body fat and muscle mass so, for example, an athlete may have a BMI that identifies them as overweight even though they do not have excess body fat. The bottom line is that the BMI should only be used as one of a number of indicators to guide your overall health.

Doctors usually define “overweight” as a condition in which a person’s weight is 10%-20% higher than “normal”, with a normal BMI range being from 20-25. You are considered “overweight” if your BMI is between 25 and 30 while “Obese” is defined as a person whose weight is 20% or more above normal or BMI 30 or more. “Morbidly obese” is when a person is either 50% over normal weight or is more than 45 kilos over normal weight, has a BMI of 40+, or being overweight severely interferes with health or normal functioning.

From this we can see that overweight and obese are words that are used to describe a person’s weight before stepping into Morbidly Obese territory. Still it is a weight that is greater than what is generally considered healthy for a given height. The difference is only a matter of degree. In the normal day to day health business, being “merely” overweight is generally considered a time when a person has more body fat than is optimally healthy and can indicate the likelihood of certain diseases and other health problems occurring. However being obese is of more concern as it not only shows in a person’s body shape but can also impact on how they live and how they feel.  Obesity can affect emotional health by lowering self-esteem, cause depression, and significantly lower overall quality of life. It can also lead to serious health issues. However being merely overweight is not a get out of jail free card if it allows you to drift into obesity – it is a wake-up call that needs to be addressed with a change in your way of eating.

Many things play a part in affecting your weight or excess of it. Basically it comes down to an energy imbalance: you are eating too many calories and not burning enough within your day. To avoid becoming overweight you want to better balance the number of calories you eat with the number of calories your body “burns off” each day, through changes in diet or through exercise.

Check in at Towards A Non-Obsessive Way of Eating to view my opinion piece, This Weeks Short Piece, containing observations, tips and debate on nutrition, food and eating that will inform your health.