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Sunday, March 17, 2013

What is the Difference Between Obesity and Overweight?

Differentiate between obesity and overweight. Find out your BMI and compare it with the BMI chart.

Although the terms overweight and obesity may sound alike, they are two different things.

What is considered overweight?

Overweight is defined as any weight in excess of weight recommendations for a given person (> 18 years) in the desirable weight table (see the table below).

Heighta (IN.)
Weight (LB)


109 ± 9b

115 ± 9
133 ± 11
122 ± 10
142 ± 12
129 ± 10
151 ± 14
136 ± 10
159 ± 14
144 ± 11
167 ± 15
152 ± 12
175 ± 15

a = Heights and weights without shoes and other clothing.
= Desirable weight for a small framed woman at this height would be approximately 109 lb. minus 9 lb., or a total of 100 lb; for an average framed  woman, 109 lb.; for a large framed woman 109 lb. plus 9 lb., or a total of 118 lb.
Source: Food and Nutrition Board, National Research Council

Causes of excess weight

The cause of excess weight might include:
  • Excess fat.
  • Extra-heavy skeletal framework.
  • Excessively muscular physique due to weight lifting or prolonged physical activity. 
A person can be overweight without being fat. Studies of college freshmen show 23 percent of the male students and 36 percent of the female students are overweight!

What is obesity?

When an overweight condition is due to excess fat, it is called "obesity".

At what point over the desirable weight is a person considered to be obese?

Nutritionists normally do not consider a person to be obese until his weight is 20 percent above the desirable weight for his particular sex, height and body frame.

For instance, the weight recommendation for a 25 year old male, 5 feet 10 inches tall (70 inches), is 159 ± 14 pounds, or from 145 to 173 pounds. If this person is large framed, his weight could be up to 20 percent above 173 pounds, or 208 pounds before he would be considered obese. This gives a person some degree of latitude (both figuratively and literally). Such latitude is important because some people do feel better when they weigh more than the recommended desirable weight for their particular structure.

Obesity and Overweight can also be differentiated by using the BMI (Body Mass Index).

What is Body Mass Index - BMI?

Body Mass Index is a simple index for of weight-for-height that is commonly used to classify underweight, overweight, and obesity in adults. It is defined as the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height measured in meters. (Kg/m2)

Formula for BMI: BMI = Weight (kg) / Height2 (m2)

Classification of weight according to BMI:

Quantifying obesity with body mass index (weight/heigh2)
BMI (kg/m2)
Risk of obesity comorbidity
Normal range
Mildly increased
> 30.0

> 30.0-34.9
Class I obese
> 35.0-39.9
Class II obese
> 40.0
Class III obese
Very severe

* Classification of the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Obesity Task Force.
The Western Pacific Region Office of WHO recommends that, amongst Asians, BMI>23.0 is overweight and >25.0 is obese.

Measure your own BMI:

Calculate your BMI using Imperial system

Enter your height in feet: and inches:

Enter your weight in pounds:

Your BMI:

Calculate your BMI using Metric system

Enter your height in Centimeters

Enter your weight in Kilos

Your BMI:

Limitations of the Body Mass Index

Although It can generally be assumed that individuals with a BMI of 30 or above have an excess fat in their body, BMI does not distinguish between weight associated with muscle and weight associated with fat. For example, many world class athlets have high BMI even though they are not fat! But since most changes in a normal person's body weight are usually related to body fat, BMI can be considered as fairly accurate.

So, eat the right food, exercise properly and try to keep your body weight within the normal range!

Like this article? Share it! Got a question? Ask me in the comments below!

That's all for today!
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