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Heavy question: How much do you weigh?

Published: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

Do you know how much you weigh? According to recent statistics, there is a good chance that you are heavier than what is healthy.

In the past 30 years, the prevalence of overweight and obesity has grown tremendously. The Centers for Disease Control reports the percentage of adults in the United States who are overweight is 69 percent.

Along with our growing waistlines comes a growth in related diseases. Diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure are just a few of them. Being overweight also puts you at higher risk for arthritis, asthma, and some cancers. 

What is the right weight for you? Two important measurements that can help you to determine your healthy weight are your body mass index (BMI) and your waist size.  BMI estimates how much you should weigh based on your height. BMIs are grouped into the following categories:  

Less than 18.5: Underweight

Between 18.5 and 24.9: Recommended

Between 25.0 and 29.9: Overweight

30 or higher: Obese

Calculating your BMI is a three-step equation: 1) Multiply your weight in pounds by 703. 2) Divide that answer by your height in inches. 3) Divide that answer by your height in inches again. For example, a woman who weighs 270 pounds and is 5-foot-8 (68 inches) has a BMI of 41.0. 

BMI is not a perfect tool for determining a healthy weight. People with a great deal of muscle and little fat will tend to have higher BMI’s than those of us with more fat tissue.  But unless you are a professional bodybuilder or other athlete, chances are, your BMI is a telling indicator.

So, you’ve calculated your BMI and it’s normal. You’re not out of the woods yet. The next step is to measure your waist.

Studies have shown that people who carry extra weight around their abdomen have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and death, even if they have a normal BMI. In fact, the Nurses’ Health Study of over 44,000 women showed that women with the largest waists had nearly double the risk of dying from heart disease and a similarly higher risk of death from cancer or any other cause.

For men, a healthy waist size is less than 40 inches. For women it is less than 35 inches. To measure your waist, place the measuring tape just above the hip bones and measure after exhaling.  

Your weight does matter. Make an effort to keep it in check by watching what you eat and getting regular physical activity.  

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