I knew that I was going to write a note about this today before I went on my run, but no one else did. While running, one of my friends who is originally from England told about one of her very first experiences in and impressions of the USA. This was in the mid 1980s. My friend went out with some others to see a movie and after entering the theatre she turned to them, rather perplexed and asked "why does everyone have a bucket?" A bucket. A bucket of popcorn. She said to her friends, in England we have bags of popcorn not buckets and we certainly don't have "pails" of soda. Well, there you go. We eat TOO MUCH.
Scientifically speaking, obesity is having too much body fat and being overweight is having too many pounds. Gone are the charts that once offered ideal weights, thank goodness. In lieu of these we have the Body Mass Index, the waist to hip ratio and a waist circumference measure. The BMI is a good indicator for most people, but it does occasionally identify very muscular and fit people as overweight or obese. The BMI is a formula : weight in pounds x 703 divided by your height in inches x your height in inches . You would like a BMI under 25. A calculator you can use on line is here:
I like this one because it has one for children as well and because the CDC message is that healthy weight is about lifestyle not dieting.
The waist to hip ratio (WHR) is determined by first measuring the smallest part of your waist and then the largest part of your hips, you divide the smaller number (waist) by the larger (hips over buttocks). This measure is said to be a better indicator of body fat and heart disease mortality risk. Women should be near .7 and men .9. This is the number for optimal health.
After you take your measurements, you can use this calculator http://www.healthcalculators.org/calculators/waist_hip.asp. I chose this website as it is hosted by a university and doesn't advertise diet products, etc.
Lastly is the waist circumference. If you have been "playing along" you should know your number from the above activity. The numbers for this measure are( again in inches) 35 and 40. Of course men get to have the higher number, did you even really wonder? Which ever your gender, you want to keep your waist circumference below that amount. This is a good measure of disease risk for people who have BMIs that are normal or overweight, but it is not helpful for the near morbidly obese. I like this website from the National Heart Lung Blood Institute because it explains a lot.
Well I do know my BMI, but all this talk has got me curious. You know they say too that the waist measurement is accurate for older persons body fat levels. I am not an older person, though I do hope to someday be one, but am going to grab my tape measure just now. BRB.
You know it is hard not to hold your stomach in when you are taking the measurements!
OK my circumference is around 25 inches so that is safe and my WHR is well... my suck in my belly one is .75 and my relaxed one is .78. And yes, it is bare skin measurement.
So pick a measure or try all three. Maybe next time I will talk about easy and painless ways to cut a few (100) calories out of your day.