What is obesity?

What is obesity? This is an urgent question. We are in the midst of an epidemic. How do you know if you are obese rather than overweight? Here you can find out.

The World Health Organization estimates that worldwide obesity has doubled since 1980! You may be wondering whether you (or a loved one) are part of that epidemic and, if so, what can be done about it.

You are obese if you are carrying enough excess body fat to cause a greater-than-normal risk of serious health problems and disability and to cause a shorter-than-normal life expectancy. There’s no disagreement about this.

The practical question is: how much excess body fat is that?

The experts disagree. There may be no one criterion that selects all who are obese and only those who are obese.

There are four ways that are commonly used to diagnose obesity. Let’s briefly review each of the four ways and plan how to proceed if you are obese.

Physical examination

The first answer to "What is obesity?" is based on the results of an unprejudiced physical examination by an expert. Since, when we look at ourselves, we tend to view ourselves through the distorting lens of our self-image, it can be very difficult to look at ourselves in an unprejudiced way.

An expert might be your licensed medical professional or a knowledgeable friend. He or she may be able to tell simply by looking at you whether you are obese, overweight, or normal.

This is a subjective process.

At least if insurance doesn’t pay for an examination by a professional, paying for it can be somewhat costly and, of course, any examination will take some time.

What is obesity percentage of body fat

The second way to diagnose what is obesity, is based on some percentage of your actual body fat.

Since females naturally carry more body fat than males, the percentage will depend upon whether you are male or female. What the exact percentage is (for example, 30% for males and 35% for females) is a matter of dispute.

You can estimate your own percentage of body fat at home using inexpensive plastic calipers and a skinfold test (which is what we do). You can purchase other tests that are more accurate such as hydrostatic underwater weighing, DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry), BodPod or BodyMetrix.

This procedure is individualized and objective, but there is an issue about what the percentages should be.

You can get a rough answer the next time you go swimming. If you are lean, you may tend to sink like a stone. If you are obese, you may have a difficult time getting far under the surface of the water.

BMI is frequently used to determine what is obesity

The third way to diagnose obesity is based on your Body Mass Index [BMI] number. If it’s 30 or above, you are obese. If it’s 40 or above, you are morbidly obese. This is the most popular method used today.

It’s also free. Just multiply your weight in pounds by 703 and divide that number by your height measured in inches squared. (Alternatively, take your weight measured in kilograms and divide that number by your height measured in meters squared.)

25 to 29.9 is overweight. 18.5 to 24.9 is normal. 18.49 and below is underweight.

More strictly, some authorities will consider you obese if your BMI is 25 or above.

Unfortunately, this method is unsuitable for some individuals. For example, it will give false positives for muscular athletes who have a low percentage of body fat.

Nevertheless, it is a common, useful method for many people.

The most popular tables used to measure obesity

The fourth and final way to diagnose obesity is based on tables that come from statistics compiled over the years by various organizations including the U. S. Army and the U. S. National Center for Health Statistics.

The most popular tables come from the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. They give a range of ideal body weights based on height and whether you have a small, medium, or large frame.

You are obese if you weigh 20% more than your ideal weight. Since the tables are free and easy to use, they are helpful – especially if combined with your BMI number.

We can help if you are obese

Do not panic or despair. There is a cure!

Obesity is a condition with causes. It never just happens. So learn from us about the causes of obesity and the obesity cure.

Please don’t react blindly by, for example, adopting a starvation diet. They simply don’t work. While starvation diets can work to lose fat initially, none of them work to keep fat off.

This explains why the 5 year success rate with respect to obesity is so low: 1 in 50.

Please start by educating yourself. Get the facts.

Here’s an important one: it is more difficult to keep lost fat off than it is to lose it in the first place. If you have been ignoring this one, by itself it might explain what has been happening to you if you have been riding the weigh roller coaster.

This is why it would be foolish to rush out and put yourself on some starvation diet. (A starvation diet, according to the World Health Organization, provides less than 2100 daily calories for women or less than 2300 daily calories for men.)

It might work temporarily, but you'd almost certainly regain the lost weight quickly and be left with an even higher percentage of body fat than when you began the starvation diet.

You can be one of those 2% who are winners only if you replace confusion with understanding the big picture. Furthermore, you never need to endure the hunger or food cravings created by enduring a starvation diet!

We are here to help you.

We help you to think through a balanced nutritional program, which is one that will enable you to attain a more healthful weight naturally and sustain it. Exercise can really help, too. If you are able to exercise, we provide step by step instructions how to do it.

When constructing your plan, be sure to get assistance from your physician or other medical advisor.

Then test the plan. See what works well for you. Adjust what you are doing by the feedback you receive. That’s it! Although it won’t always be easy, it’s simple. If you make it a priority, you can do it.

Key point: If you are obesity then resolve to get the facts before constructing a realistic, individualized plan of action.

This free website is here to help you reach your goals. Let go of the idea of a quick, lasting fix and focus on developing productive habits -- one at a time -- that will automatically result in lasting weight loss for you.

Highly recommended books relating to what is obesity and the cure

If you gained useful information from the "What is Obesity" page, page, wish to improve your weight loss and eating habits AND aim for optimum health the following books are highly recommended.

These are our top suggestions:



  • D. E. Bradford, HOW TO EAT LESS -- EASILY!

  • L. Cordain, THE PALEO DIET

  • Eades and the Eades, Protein Power


  • The above books are in stock at Amazon.com (for the USA) and Amazon.co.uk (for the UK)

  • Web pages to help you further

    To further your understanding about obesity and related issues, we recommend the following page of our website:

    Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms

    Childhood Obesity Statistics

    If you are looking for more about 'what is obesity,' you can search our website or the World Wide Web.


    How lectins cause disease: Obesity & Diabetes

    Fast food, Fat profits: Obesity in America

    Calculate your body mass index to see if you are obese. Then you can aim for a health weight. Use the page link given below.

    Calculate your body mass index to see if you are obese

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