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Am I Really Overweight?

Posted 2/11/2016 by UHBlog

How do you know if you’re pleasantly plump or super stout? We can help you understand this and other “weighty” health issues.

Am I Really Overweight?

Although Ohio has the eighth highest obesity rate in the U.S., you may not view yourself as heavy. That’s because a distorted self-perception is more common than you think. Many people are “fat blind” and unable to recognize themselves as overweight or obese.

If you want to know if you’re among the one in three Ohioans who fall into the overweight and obese categories, learn what your body mass index (BMI) is, says internal medicine specialist Joel David, DO.

At your doctor’s office, your BMI is usually taken by a nurse, who uses your weight and height to calculate it. BMI measures how much of your body is composed of fat. Excess body fat is linked to many chronic diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, arthritis and some cancers. Additionally, it’s considered the second leading preventable cause of death in the U.S.

“We use a patient’s body mass index to determine where he or she is on a continuum of weight, ranging from being underweight to morbidly obese,” he says. “A person’s weight itself may not be a good indicator of whether she’s overweight. You can be a 5-feet-tall woman who weighs 125 pounds and be overweight, whereas a 6-feet-tall man who weighs 175 pounds may be a normal weight.”

In adults, BMI categories are:

  • Underweight, which is less than 18.5
  • Normal weight, ranging from 18.5 to 24.9
  • Overweight, which ranges from 25 to 29.9
  • Obesity, covering 30 and greater

If you’re at a 25 or higher BMI, your doctor can help you develop strategies to get your weight into an acceptable range.

“Our initial approach is to help the patient recognize they’re overweight,” Dr. David says. But sometimes the company you keep, clothing you wear and/or other societal pressures may cause you to think your weight is fine as is.

“As a medical care provider, we try to guide our patients to choose a healthier lifestyle, independent of those societal pressures,” he says. “It’s a similar thought process to, ‘My friend smokes and didn’t die of lung cancer. I’m overweight and I’m fine.’ In reality it doesn’t work that way. Over time, overweight and obesity are just like any chronic disease. Excess weight can lead to complications and take a toll on your body.”

According to Dr. David, the power to make changes lies with you, the individual.

“The greatest success happens when the patient comes to us and says, ‘I know I’m overweight and I want to do something about it,’” he says. “We have strategies to help you. We’ll discuss your lifestyle and routines and try to determine what’s reversible, such as eating and exercise habits, to help you lose weight.

“If those fail at getting the weight under control, we can always talk about other alternatives – for instance, medication and surgery – that we can consider,” he says.

Joel David, DO is an internal medicine specialist at University Hospitals Beachwood Internal Medicine and University Hospitals Concord Health Center. You can request an appointment with Dr. David or any other University Hospitals doctor online.

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