Health

Oct 31, 2012 1:31 PM by KATC

Calculating Your BMI: A Number to Live by

Obesity is defined as having a "body mass index" (BMI) above 30. Overweight means a BMI of 25 to 29.9. BMI is calculated by taking weight in pounds and dividing it by the square of height in inches, and multiplying the result by 703. For instance, someone who is 5 feet, 5 inches tall and weighs 185 pounds (84 kg) has a BMI of 30.8. That person is considered obese.

You can calculate your BMI by going to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website:

http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/english_bmi_calculator/bmi_calculator.html

(Note: The website has different calculators for adults and children.)

The numbers are mind-numbing. Experts say we are reaching the point where we
are constantlly eating. But because many get too little exercise, we are a nation getting fatter by the day. We need food for health and life itself. But---while fuel for the body-food
can be the very thing that kills us.

As incredible as it sounds, 33 percent of Louisiana residents are obese. Not just overweight---obese. If our eating habits don't change...in just 18 years historians may look back and say Louisiana was downright svelte.

By 2030...based on our current eating trends...the latest surveys show more than
62 percent of Louisianans--well over half--will be obese.

"This is the first generation where our children are dying before the parents," says Dr. Uyen Chu, a surgeon and weight specialist at Lourdes Regional Medical Center.

She says a step in the right direction is knowing our B-M-I, or Body Mass Index. Based on your height and weight, it's a reliable indicator of body fatness.

Every dietician will tell you when it comes to weight loss, there's no lack of fad diets promising fast results. Problem is, they limit the nutrition you get and most tend to fail in the long run.

Why is this number important? Dr. Chu says B.M.I. can spell the difference between life and death.

"People whose BMI is below 20 are at risk of higher mortality because they are malnourished. But if your BMI is greater than 25 you're considered overweight," Chu says.

And at what point, what number, does obesity begin?

Dr. Chu says, "Once you're over 30, you reach the obese classification. And that increases your risk of death by almost four-fold."

The body needs fat. The problem starts when the body stores too MUCH fat. It leads to disease. Plaque builds up in the arteries, the heart and in the kidneys. It can also lead to what's called fatty liver disease. When it comes to diabetes, fat is a real killer.

"When overweight, you chance of developing diabetes is seven-fold. When
you're obese, your chance of developing diabetes is THIRTEEN times greater,"
she says.

Dr. Chu says it's not about "diet." It's about a change in daily lifestyle.

What advice does she give parents whose children are used to eating "junk"?

"My advice to parents would be that they have to become healthier," Chu
says. "Parents have to be the example. Otherwise your children will not
learn."

 

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