That changed. For the last few years, everyone has used the Body Mass Index or BMI to determine if you were at a good weight, overweight, or obese. The BMI is quite easy to use because it is a ratio of your height and weight and it is easy to find and use an online BMI calculator. This is something even I can do since it doesn't require any special instruments.
The BMI relied on comparing weight in kilograms to height in meters squared or weight in pounds to height in inches squared multiplied by 703. If the answer ranged from 18.5 to 24.9, weight was considered normal. If it landed in the 25 to 29.9 range, people were classified as overweight and if it hit 30 or above, people were said to be obese. Although it is quite simple, this method can't distinguish between body fat and lean muscle.
Another common method is to measure the waist circumference. It looks at the fat found around the middle which is actually a good predictor of health problems. For this one measures the waist at the natural waist line, the line at the belly button, or at the narrowest section of the midsection. It has one of the best correlations to determining if the person has fat accumulating around the belly. Furthermore, studies have shown that this method is fairly accurate at predicting development of disease and death. Unfortunately, this method has not been fully standardized and may provide inaccurate results for those who are obese.
There is a new method which combines BMI with the waist circumference as a more accurate assessment of being overweight. In this method the waist circumference is divided by a persons height for a better idea of the person's body fat and their risk of obesity. It actually looks at the over all body fat and the fat stored in the abdomen because any excess fat stored there raises the cardiovascular risk. This method was found to be more accurate than the BMI, or most other general methods.
When the waist measurement is divided by a person's height, the ratio should be no more than .53 for men and .54 for women to determine if the over all body is considered obese and no more than .59 for both genders to say a person has abdominal obesity. In other words, if your ratios are higher than those numbers, you are considered obese. In fact, it is strongly recommended that people keep the ratio in the 0.40 to 0.49 range for the best results.
The nice thing is that the measurements can be done easily in either cm for both height and waist or inches for both. It can be done at home and is quite easy to manage on your own so you can monitor yourself. If you don't have a measuring tape, it's easy to stop by and get one. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. Have a great day.