Health Topics

Healthy Living

May 2011
Are you at your ideal body weight?
Prachi Patodia Saraf
As the holiday season is upon us, we all want to look nice and special when we are out of town or meeting old friends and making new acquaintances. One of the things that we feel particularly conscious about is our weight. Do we know whether we have the ideal body weight?

Not all of us have access to a gym or a dietician to determine our ideal body weight. Body Mass Index (BMI) and waist size are the easiest self-assessment tools to determine if you have ideal body weight; and in turn, any weight related health risks.

What is a healthy weight? Why is it important?
According to Mayo Clinic, “a healthy weight means that you have the right amount of body fat in relation to your overall body mass.” A healthy weight helps you reduce the risk of certain diseases caused by excess weight, helps prevent premature ageing and improves quality of life.

In contrast,being overweight or obese increases your risk of many diseases and conditions. Almost 65% of adult urban Indians are either overweight or obese or have abdominal obesity. They are susceptible or are already suffering from problems like coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis (deterioration of joints due to excess weight), certain cancers, breathing problems etc.

Ways to check if you have a healthy weight


Body mass index (BMI) approximately estimates the body fat of an adult based on his/her height and weight. It does not directly measure the percentage of body fat or give you the location of body fat, but it’s a more accurate indicator of overweight and obesity than total weight alone.

Calculate your BMI – Weight in kilograms /(Height in meters)2.Healthy weight is a BMI range of 18 to 22.9 kg/m2; overweight is 23 to 24.9 kg/m2; and obese is 25 kg/m2 and above. The Health Ministry had reduced the diagnostic cut-offs for body mass index (BMI) for Indians and made it even more stringent compared to the US standards.

BMI might not be accurate for some people like body-builders or the elderly.
You can look at the BMI range to see where your weight falls and decide on the future course of action. If you are in the overweight or obese category, you might have to work on prevention of excess weight gain or work on losing further weight. If you are in the healthy BMI range, you can further improve your health through a good diet and exercise plan.

Waist size
Even if your BMI shows you have a healthy weight, waist size is very important. This is espe greater than 80 cm or a man with a waist size greater than 90 cm, you have health risks.

You could be at a greater risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, possibly breast cancer and even premature death. Men tend to have more fat around the waist while women tend to have excess weight in the lower body.

How to measure waist size correctly: Stand and place the tape measure just above the top of the hip bones. Measure your waist just after you breathe out.

If either your BMI or waist circumference exceed healthy limits, you are at risk for weight related problems and need to work on a plan to lose weight. Research has shown that if you are significantly overweight, even a modest weight loss of just 5 to 15 percent of your current weight can improve your immediate health and could lower your risk of developing weight related diseases. The key is to be pro-active about making changes in your diet and being physically active and fit every day of your life.

Obesity may be contagious!

According to the American Medical Association, obesity may be contagious.“Chances of a person becoming obese are 57% higher if a friend has also become obese.” This also applies to married couples or siblings as one is strongly influenced by them.

Prachi Patodia Saraf is ahealth enthusiast and marathon runner she has a Bachelor's in Management from The Wharaton School(USA)
  • The information on this site does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for medical care provided by a physician.
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