Did you know that when you step on the scales you’re not measuring how fat you are but how heavy you are? Sounds simple but it’s a common mistake to assume that your weight correlates to your body fat level. And now that obesity is considered as deadly as smoking it’s time we all took a long, hard look at our true body fat levels. There's a direct correlation between excess abdominal fat and life-threatening diseases.
The only way to work out your true fat level is to calculate your BMI (Body Mass Index).
There are three steps you need to take in order to do this correctly:
1. Multiply your weight in pounds by 703.
2. Divide that number by your height in inches.
3. Divide that number by your height in inches again.
So, for example, a woman who weighs 145 pounds and is 5 foot seven inches tall has a BMI of 22.7.
A woman who is 5 foot seven inches but weighs 260 pounds has a BMI of 40.7.
Anything over a BMI of 25 is considered overweight while if it is 30 or above you are considered ‘obese.’ Once you hit 40 or above you are ‘morbidly obese’ and your health is at risk.
One problem with BMI is that it doesn’t take into account that muscle mass weighs heavier than fat so that even prime athletes come in as ‘morbidly obese.’ A more reliable indicator, therefore, is your waist measurement.
Studies have shown that women with a waist measurement over 35 inches are at greater risk of developing diabetes and heart disease while for men the benchmark is 40 inches.
There is, therefore, a direct correlation between excess abdominal fat and life-threatening diseases.
It is particularly easy to put on weight after the age of 40 when, for women, hormones go haywire and the menopause sets in.
For both men and women, busy lifestyles as we get older and more laden with responsibilities mean that we don’t often get as much exercise as we need.
Worryingly, statistics show that there is also a marked decline in exercise even among younger people which means that more and more are also being diagnosed with dangerous levels of excess fat.
If you fall into this at-risk group, it’s time to re-evaluate your eating and exercise habits. You need to adopt a regime that will trim down your fat levels while also lowering your overall BMI.
Cardiovascular exercise will help as will adopting a healthy diet but it is vital to recognise that these changes must be a long-term lifestyle choice rather than a short-term quick fix.