Assessing Your Weight and Health Risk

Assessment of weight and health risk involves using three key measures:

1.      Body mass index (BMI)

2.      Waist circumference

3.      Risk factors for diseases and conditions associated with obesity

Body Mass Index (BMI)

BMI is a useful measure of overweight and obesity. It is calculated from your height and weight. BMI is an estimate of body fat and a good gauge of your risk for diseases that can occur with more body fat. The higher your BMI, the higher your risk for certain diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems, and certain cancers.

Although BMI can be used for most men and women, it does have some limits:

  • It may overestimate body fat in athletes and others who have a muscular build.
  • It may underestimate body fat in older persons and others who have lost muscle.

Use the BMI Calculator or BMI Tables to estimate your body fat. The BMI score means the following:

Underweight Below 18.5
Normal 18.5–24.9
Overweight 25.0–29.9
Obesity 30.0 and Above

The BMI calculator is also available in a mobile application. This tool provides results right on your iphone along with links to healthy weight resources on the NHLBI Web site.

Waist Circumference

Measuring waist circumference helps screen for possible health risks that come with overweight and obesity. If most of your fat is around your waist rather than at your hips, you’re at a higher risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. This risk goes up with a waist size that is greater than 35 inches for women or greater than 40 inches for men. To correctly measure your waist, stand and place a tape measure around your middle, just above your hipbones. Measure your waist just after you breathe out.

The table Risks of Obesity-Associated Diseases by BMI and Waist Circumference provides you with an idea of whether your BMI combined with your waist circumference increases your risk for developing obesity-associated diseases or conditions.

Risk Factors for Diseases and Conditions Associated With Obesity

Along with being overweight or obese, the following conditions will put you at greater risk for heart disease and other conditions:

Risk Factors

  • 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
  • Cigarette smoking

For people who are considered obese (BMI greater than or equal to 30) or those who are overweight (BMI of 25 to 29.9) and have two or more risk factors, it is recommended that you lose weight. Even a small weight loss (between 5 and 10 percent of your current weight) will help lower your risk of developing diseases associated with obesity. People who are overweight, do not have a high waist measurement, and have fewer than two risk factors may need to prevent further weight gain rather than lose weight.

Talk to your doctor to see whether you are at an increased risk and whether you should lose weight. Your doctor will evaluate your BMI, waist measurement, and other risk factors for heart disease.

The good news is even a small weight loss (between 5 and 10 percent of your current weight) will help lower your risk of developing those diseases.

Calculate Your Body Mass Index

Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women.

  • Enter your weight and height using standard or metric measures.
  • Select “Compute BMI” and your BMI will appear below.

BMI Categories:

  • Underweight = <18.5
  • Normal weight = 18.5–24.9
  • Overweight = 25–29.9
  • Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater

The BMI Tables

Aim for a Healthy Weight:, December 6, 2010


The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers

Foreign Policy presents a unique portrait of 2010’s global marketplace of ideas and the thinkers who make them.

28. Shai Agassi

for driving to make electric cars a reality.

CEO, Better Place | Palo Alto, Calif.

Israeli-born Shai Agassi is much more than a car-part inventor or a lithium-battery whiz: He’s an electric-car prophet. Through his startup, Better Place, he has begun the crucial work of developing, and proselytizing for, the infrastructure necessary to make electric autos a mass-market success.

Agassi’s sales pitch has global appeal: He has attracted more than $700 million in venture capital, and Australia, Denmark, Hawaii, and Israel have announced plans to build Agassi’s networks. Tokyo’s taxi drivers are already driving on the Better Place system, with San Francisco set to follow in 2011. Ranked third on Fast Company‘s list of the most creative people in business, Agassi said: “How do you run an entire country without oil, with no new science, … and in a time frame that’s fast enough to get off oil before we run out of planet?” His answer, and increasingly the world’s, is obvious.

Reading list: Too Big to Fail, by Andrew Ross Sorkin; The Upside of Irrationality, by Dan Ariely; Start-Up Nation, by Dan Senor and Saul Singer.

Worst idea: To renew the “cash for clunkers” program — pay people to scrap a product that is still usable just so that they buy another one that is almost equally wasteful and polluting.

China or India? China today, India in 20 years.

Better Place Electric Car Comes With An Infrastructure, a Whole System

Read more . . .