What is Obesity?

Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above. Body mass index is a number calculated from a person’s weight and height. You can calculate your own BMI here. Based on BMI, about 42.5 percent of US adults ages 20 and older have obesity. Another 31.1% are considered overweight, defined as having a BMI of 25.0 to 29.9.

However, BMI alone is not a very good indicator of what a healthy weight for you should be. For instance, since your weight includes muscles and fat—some people, like athletes, may have a high BMI but a low percentage of body fat because they have more muscle. Body mass index also doesn’t consider your gender, race, or ethnicity. That’s why the American Medical Association now recommends that clinicians consider other indicators of health, including body fat percentage, waist circumference, and genetics.

If your healthcare provider diagnoses you with obesity based solely on your BMI, ask to have these other parameters checked.

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