Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Normal Weight Obesity: what the scale doesn't tell you

A recent study conducted by the Mayo Clinic suggests that just because a person might be in a normal weight range, it doesn’t mean that they do not have the same health risks as those that are considered obese. This trend has been termed “normal weight obesity” and refers to a person within an acceptable weight range who has a high body fat percentage (a high percentage of body fat is considered higher than 20% for men and higher than 30% for women).

Much of America’s obesity ratings have been based on Body Mass Index (BMI) which is a calculation between a person’s height and weight:
English BMI Formula
BMI = ( Weight in Pounds / ( Height in inches ) x ( Height in inches ) ) x 703
Metric BMI Formula
BMI = ( Weight in Kilograms / ( Height in Meters ) x ( Height in Meters ) )

Or if you are not math-savy (like me), click here for a BMI calculator.

A healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. But now, researchers have found that even those people with healthy BMIs might still have an excessive amount of fat in their bodies whether you can see it or not. The problem with this is that those people found to be of normal weight but with high body fat also had, like people who are obese, an increased risk of developing heart disease or a metabolic disorder like diabetes.

So how can you find out your very own body fat percentage? There are three main ways to test:

  1. Hydrostatic Weighing is the most accurate test to find your body fat %, but it is also the most expensive and hard to do test. This test involves suspending a person in water while they sit on a scale in a tub of water…not very practical for the normal person, right?
  2. The Skin Fold Test is a good measurement in which an instrument called calipers is used. Though someone uncomfortable because the trainer or doctor is literally pinching your fat and measuring it, it is a relatively accurate measurement of body fat, plus calipers are inexpensive and portable.
  3. Bioelectrical Impedance is a non-invasive and popular way to measure body fat, though it is not as accurate as the first to methods. You typically stand on a scale or hold a device in your hands that sends and electrical current through your body. The analyzer measures the body’s resistance to the electrical flow and spits out the percentage of fat.

The skin fold test and bioelectrical impedance tests are commonly used at gyms during an initial health assessment. These assessments are usually free…so sign up for one today. If you do not have a gym measurement, ask your Dr. during your next visit or call your local friendly personal trainer to sign up for an assessment :).
To read more in depth about the Mayo Clinic’s study on normal weight obesity, click here.

During the month of June, you can get a full body and fitness assessment for just $50. Call me at 913-909-2043 or e-mail me at to set up your assessment time.

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