Understanding Obesity and BMI

The term “obesity” is used to describe the health condition of anyone significantly above his or her ideal healthy weight. Don’t be discouraged by the term. It simply means you are 20 percent or more above your ideal weight, and you are not alone. Nearly 70 percent of American adults are either overweight or obese. Being obese puts you at a higher risk for health problems such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and more.

Your body is made up of water, fat, protein, carbohydrate, and various vitamins and minerals. If you have too much fat, especially if a lot of it is at your waist, you’re at higher risk for health problems. Body mass index (BMI) is an indicator of the amount of body fat for most people. To calculate your exact BMI value, multiply your weight in pounds by 703, divide by your height in inches, then divide again by your height in inches. People with a BMI of 30 or higher are considered obese.

If you’re overweight or obese, you can reduce your risk for health problems by successfully losing weight and keeping it off.  Everyone needs a goal and positive reasons to achieve that goal. Even losing a few pounds can provide you with health benefits, so every step in the right direction is a step toward healthier living.  Two factors are key to losing weight and maintaining it; eating a healthy diet and daily exercise.

Individuals who successfully maintain a healthy weight monitor what, when, and how much they eat.  They plan all their meals, eat reasonable portions, and shop smart for groceries, selecting fresh, low-fat foods, avoiding sugary drinks and cutting down on red meats.  Those individuals who maintain a healthy weight also get regular exercise.  If you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll need to boost your physical activity to 60 to 90 minutes a day.  Once you reach your desired goal you may be able to get only 30 minutes of exercise, five days a week.  To begin an exercise program, talk with your health care provider first and then start slowly. Start with 10 to 30 minutes of moderately intense activity, like walking three days a week.

Staying motivated is essential to successfully losing weight and keeping it off. Keeping your motivation up is an important part of making any change permanent. Try weighing yourself regularly. Doing so is an excellent way to keep your target goal in reach, or to maintain your weight. Weekly weigh-ins are best and allow you to take action, by cutting calories, exercising more, or both, if your weight creeps up to three pounds over your maintenance target.  

Measure your BMI today to see if you could benefit from a diet and exercise program to achieve your optimal weight and health!

Board certified and fellowship trained General Surgeon Karl Strom, M.D., FACS, is medical director of the Center for Bariatric Surgery at Hackensack Meridian Health Raritan Bay Medical Center-Perth Amboy. The center assists patients in attaining a healthier lifestyle, through a comprehensive and individualized plan of care, including safe and effective weight-loss surgery options. For more information attend a free seminar.  Upcoming seminar dates include March 6 and 22, 6:00 p.m. in Perth Amboy and Woodbridge, NJ.  Call 1-800-560-9990 to register, or for a complete schedule of seminars.

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