Overweight vs. Obese: What’s The Difference?

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A stethoscope on top of a scale

According to the CDC, in 2011, African Americans were 1.5 times as likely to be obese as Non- Hispanic Whites. In particular, African American women have the highest rates of being overweight or obese compared to other groups in the U.S. – about four out of five African American women are overweight or obese.

What’s the difference between being overweight and being obese?

Being overweight or obesity are both labels for ranges of weight that are greater than what is generally considered healthy for a particular height. The terms are also an attempt to identify the likelihood of certain diseases and other health problems.

Overweight. Doctors usually define “overweight” as a condition in which a person’s weight is 10%-20% higher than “normal,” as defined by a standard height/weight chart, or as a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 30.

Obese. Obesity usually means a person’s weight is 20% or more above normal weight or as a BMI of 30 or more.

Morbid Obesity. This means a person is either 50%-100% over normal weight, more than 100 pounds over normal weight, or sufficiently overweight to severely interfere with health.

How can I determine my BMI?

It is important to remember that although BMI correlates with the amount of body fat, BMI does not directly measure body fat, or account for a person being more muscular. As a result, some people, such as athletes, may have a BMI that suggests they’re overweight, even though they do not have excess body fat.

Other methods of estimating body fat and body fat distribution include measurements of skinfold thickness and waist circumference, calculation of waist-to-hip circumference ratios, and techniques such as ultrasound, computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). For more information about this, talk to your doctor or a gym trainer.

Click here to determine your BMI.

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