Am I fat? We often hear this question (it used to be that only girls would ask such question, but now, even the guys do) and often times, we don’t really know what and how to answer.
You can’t really tell if someone is fat just by looking at someone. Sure, it would be easy to spot if someone is obese, but fat? Not really.
If you want to be technically correct and exact about it, there are some numerical ways to determine if someone is fat or not.
Probably the simplest and the easiest way you could go is by calculating one’s body mass index. You will find a lot of charts and web calculators – just fill out the fields with your height and weight or simply locate you height and weight, and the resulting number will determine whether you are underweight, healthy, overweight, obese, or extremely obese. It is a calculation that uses your height and weight to estimate how much body fat you have. Though it does not directly measure body fat, it is more accurate at approximating degree of body fatness than weight alone, but because it is not a measure of body fatness, individuals who are very muscular may often fall into the overweight category, even if they are not extremely fat. BMI measurement may also place individuals who have lost muscle into the healthy weight category.
Measuring BMI for very short people or pregnant women is not appropriate. This measurement might also give a misleading impression to people who have normal but have high percentage of body fat. They might think that because they are perceived to have normal weight, they are of lesser risk for heart diseases, diabetes and hypertension. BMI measurement is also not appropriate for older people, who are losing muscle and are gaining more body fat as they grow older.
Another way to determine if you’re fat or not is to measure one’s waist circumference – because some health watchers say that what really matters are the fat that accumulates around the waist. It is believed that excessive abdominal fat is more health threatening than hip or thigh fat. The National Institute of Health (NIH) has asked physicians to include the patients’ waistlines among their vital statistics.
To measure one’s waist circumference, locate the upper hipbone and place a measuring tape around the abdomen (ensuring that the tape measure is horizontal). The tape measure should be snug but should not cause compressions on the skin. If you’re a man with a waist larger than 40 inches or a woman with a waist larger than 35 inches, you need to lose some fat. You may be at risk for developing high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.
According to the National Institutes of Health, a high waist circumference is associated with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension and cardiovascular disease when the BMI is between 25 and 34.9. Measuring waist circumference can be useful for those people categorized as normal or overweight in terms of BMI. (For example, an athlete with increased muscle mass may have a BMI greater than 25 – making him or her overweight on the BMI scale – but a waist circumference measurement would most likely indicate that he or she is, in fact, not overweight).
So the next time someone ask you if they’re fat or not, think twice before you give them an answer. If it’s all for the sake of vanity, it might not hurt to say that they’re looking just right for their height and build, but if you think that telling them they’re fat will actually save their lives in the future (I’m talking medical emergencies here), then it might be time to take that chart or calculator out and do a little arithmetic.