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Obesity: What it is and How to Stop It!

What Is Obesity? 

Obesity is a medical condition characterized by excessive fat accumulation. The rates in cases of obesity have been on a steady rise in the United States, and as a result we have more people suffering from chronic illnesses than ever before. A lot of the common ailments plaguing our communities today could be prevented and treated with practicing healthier lifestyle choices, such as, proper nutrition, adequate sleep, and regular exercise.

National health organizations tend to use the BMI to define whether a person is overweight or obese. The Body Mass Index (BMI) is the numerical value of your weight in relation to your height. There has been some speculation regarding the efficiency and accuracy of the BMI, however it still remains the standard Today.

Alright, we’re gonna breakdown the BMI recommendations across various age groups, as well as, discuss how to calculate your BMI.

Breakdown of BMI Recommendations


Obese is a BMI greater than or equal to 30.

Overweight is a BMI greater than or equal to 25; and

Children Under 5 years Old

Overweight is weight-for-height greater than 2 standard deviations above WHO Child Growth Standards median.

Obesity is weight-for-height greater than 3 standard deviations above WHO Child Growth Standards median.

BMIWeight Status
Below 18.5Underweight
18.5 – 24.9Healthy Weight
25.0 – 29.9Overweight
30.0 and AboveObesity

Children aged between 5 and 19 years old

Overweight is weight-for-height greater than 1 standard deviations above WHO Child Growth Reference median.

Obesity is weight-for-height greater than 2 standard deviations above WHO Child Growth Reference median.

How is BMI Calculate?
Measurement UnitsFormula and Calculations
Pounds and InchesFormula
weight(lb) x [height(in)]2 x 703

Calculate the BMI by first dividing body weight in pounds by height in inches squared and then multiplying by a conversion factor of 703.

Example Calculation

Kilograms and meters/centimetersFormula

weight(kg) x [height(m)]2

Calculate the BMI by first dividing weight in kilograms by height in meters squared.
Hieght is commonly measured in centimeters, so in order to get obtain height in meters, divide height in centimeters by 100.

Example Calculation


Concerns with BMI

There have been a few concerns raised over the years in regards to the accuracy of using the BMI. Some of those concerns include,

  • BMI may overestimate body fat in athletes and other individuals with muscular builds.
  • BMI may underestimate body fat in older people and other individuals who have lost muscle.
  • At the same BMI Women tend to have more body fat than men.
  • At the same BMI, the body fat percentage may be higher/lower depending on ethnicity.

The Obesity Epidemic 

Worldwide obesity has tripled since 1975. In 2016 alone, more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight and obese. In fact, most if the world’s population live in countries, where being overweight and obesity takes more lives than being underweight.

In the United States alone, over 70% of adults are overweight or obese. These are staggering statistics and there remains an influx of advertisements promoting fast foods, and processed foods to adults and children, adding to the enormous issue at hand.

It’s not just adults suffering from this health crisis, children are also being affected at rapidly increasing rates. In 2016, over 340 million children and adolescents aged 5-19 were overweight or obese, and in 2020, 39 million children under the age of 5 were obese.

Can you imagine the health implications of being obese at 5 years old. My heart goes out to those 39 million children. The fault lies not with them, but with the parents and with various systems we have put in place that are promoting unhealthy and toxic lifestyle habits to our us and our youth.

Something must be done to stop this from continuing. What I see as the common thread among those suffering from being overweight or obese is simply a lack of education or knowledge on how to go about living a healthier lifestyle.  

The Effects of Obesity

Obesity causes many health concerns and is a cotributing factor to quite a few chronic illnesses.

  • High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
  • Gallbladder Disease
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Low quality life
  • Stroke
  • Mental Illness (depression, anxiety, etc)
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Body Pain
  • Oseteoarthritis
  • Difficulty with phycially functioning
  • High LDL Cholesterol
  • Chronic Inflammation
  • Low HDL Cholesterol
  • Some Cancers (endometrial, breast, liver, colon, gallbladder)
  • Coronory Heart Disease
  • Increased Mortality

Fighting Obesity 

Fighting obesity comes down to changing our lifestyle habits and educating ourselves.  

In the United States of America, the sedentary lifestyle has become increasingly prevalent amongst youth and adults. This increased lack of physical activity has helped contribute to the drastic increase in obesity rates. 

When we follow these simple guidelines, we can get to a healthy weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

It all comes down to following these simple steps.

  • Limit consumption of processed foods
  • Limit consumption of sugar
  • Limit consumption of unhealthy foods
  • Limit screentime
  • Increase physical activity
  • Consume natural whole foods
  • Reduce stress
  • Get adequate sleep

Preventing Obesity 

To prevent obesity, we must focus on educating individuals on what proper nutrition is and how to implement it in their daily lives regardless of socioeconomic status. This education needs to begin in early childhood development so that these healthy habits become routine and normalized.  

On an individual level there are strategies we can implement in order to prevent overweight and obesity.

Strategies to prevent obesity

  • Proper Nutrition 
  • Regular Physical Activity 
  • Adequate Sleep 
  • Limit Sedentary Time
  • Reduce Stress

On a communal level, there are also strategies that can be implemented in order to prevent overweight and obesity.

These strategies include

  • Ensuring individuals from every economic status have access to affordable, healthy, nutritious foods.
  • Offering healthy food options and limiting processed foods, in school lunch programs.
  • Promoting physical exercise in early childhood development.
  • Reducing sugar, salt, and fat content in processed foods.
  • Stop promoting processed and sugar rich foods in the media.
  • Offering nutritious food and promoting regular physical activity in the workplace.

Helpful Resources 

BMI Calculator 

World Obesity Federation 

Center For Disease Control and Prevention 

Child Growth Standards

Child Growth Reference

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