"Do I Need to Lose Weight?"
By Laura Ng
Being overweight doesn't necessarily mean you're unhealthy. But if you can gain weight by 5 pounds, you'll soon gain by another 10, 20, 50 and so forth. The more weight gain, the more health risk for you, if your weight gain primarily stems from gaining of excess fat.
If you REALLY need to lose weight for health sake, I'm all for it. But never lose weight just because somebody says so or you think you need to shed more pounds in order to look good. I've seen numerous cases of anorexia due to excessive fat loss. That is terribly unhealthy and could jolly well cost your life. Foolish and not worth going for.
I don't care what size and shape you're in now, please do a quick, simple test on your health since you're already here. I don't want to see you end up like those anorexics who have lost grip on their self-judgment and become obsessed with weight loss.
By the way, underweight people are more likely to die than obese people, according to studies done to assess the mortality in relation to weight.
That said, use our Health Evaluator below to assess your health condition first before you get down to any serious fat loss decision.
How to Use Our Health Evaluator?
1. Select your gender and ethnic group as different gender and ethnic group can yield different results.
3. Key into the boxes your waist in cm OR inches, weight in kg OR pounds, and height in cm OR feet-inches. Any combination will do.
4. Click on the [Check Health] button and it'll generate your BMI, classify you as 'Underweight', 'Normal', 'Overweight' or 'Obese', indicate your health risk, and finally a good piece of advice to show you how to improve your health and shape.
6. Under Recommended (Ticked) Solutions for You, for example, if you see a tick inside the small box beside the link Vegetarian Weight Loss Guide, then that's the solution I strongly recommend you to go with. If no boxes are ticked, that means I have no specific solutions for you.
Note: Though this Health Evaluator provides pretty good guidelines for the majority body types in general, if you need further specific and personal help on your "special" oversize condition, please consult with your physician or you can talk to me and we'll discuss together how best to help you achieve your fat loss goals.
How to Accurately Measure Your Waistline, Weight and Height?
To obtain more accurate body measurements, Do NOT measure right after your meal. Best time — morning before your first meal and after your bowel movements. But if your body tends to retain water in the morning and results in swollen waist and increased weight, wait for the swell to go off to avoid adding the unwanted water mass to your actual weight and extra inches to your waist girth.
Large waist stems from the accumulation of visceral fat in your abdominal area. Visceral fat poses greater health risk than fat carried in the hips and thighs.
For measuring waistline:
Remove bulky clothing and loosen your belt (if any).
Surround the measuring tape midway between your last rib cage and the top of your hip bone (see right image for position of waist). Make sure the tape fits snugly around your waist and not too tight.
Don't hold your breath while measuring. Relax and breathe out.
Take down measurement.
Please take note that your height might differ from 1 to 2.5 cm between morning and night. That's because your spine compresses slightly during the day with the weight pushed down on it when you stay upright and during your night's sleep it extends back again, as lying down takes the weight back off.
As such, you should take your height in the morning since that's your actual height.
Why Measure Waistline?
With your weight and height we can find out your Body Mass Index (BMI).
Scientists design BMI calculation to help people determine if they carry excess body fat which may in turn raise their health risk for Type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia (elevation of lipids in the blood), hypertension, stroke and cardiovascular disease.
By calculating BMI, you'll know which of these 4 categories you fall into:
However, BMI may overestimate body fat in people with muscular build (e.g. bodybuilders and athletes) and underestimate body fat in those with less muscle (e.g. older people).
For example, Jane and Mary both stand 170 cm (5-foot-7) tall and weigh 170 pounds (77.1 kg). Using BMI calculator, they both score 26.7 kg/m² (overweight!). But Jane looks more muscular with a 6-pack ab (FYI: muscle weighs more than fat) whereas Mary got a pair of thunder thighs and huge spare tire around her middle.
That means, Jane is in fact not overweight in fat but instead fit and healthy carrying a low body fat level while Mary really needs to lose her weight and fat due to her high fat composition at her thighs and waist which will bring about high health risk.
Here's another example to illustrate the inaccuracy of BMI alone.
Both 26-year-old Jack and 65-year-old Bruce stand 170 cm (5-foot-7) tall and weigh 140 pounds (63.5 kg) score 22 kg/m² in BMI. They both fall within the normal BMI range. But because Bruce is older, he tends to carry more fat and less muscle mass in his body (as you age, your muscle mass will generally drop and metabolism slows down which in turn, raises your body fat composition).
Thus, even though BMI shows Bruce as "normal", he needs to either shed some fat off his body or build a bit more muscle to reduce his risk for heart disease and other fat-causing health issues.
Hence, in the case of Jane / Mary or Jack / Bruce pair, what can you do to arrive at a more accurate diagnosis of who should lose fat to improve their health since BMI doesn't reflect true fat distribution in your abdominal area?
That calls for the inclusion of your waistline in addition to your BMI to give a more accurate picture of your health risk (for Type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, stroke and cardiovascular disease) than just using BMI alone.
Why is Visceral Fat Harmful?
Excess fat gathering around your waistline (aka visceral fat) produces deleterious immune system chemicals called cytokines (e.g. tumor necrosis factor and interleukin-6) that promotes insulin resistance and low-level chronic inflammation, which in turn raises your risk of cardiovascular diseases.
What's more, as visceral fat is located nearer to your body's vital organs than flab on your buttocks, hips and thighs, when the excess fat pushes against the organs, the physical pressure will add stress on them.
Oh, don't forget that your blood vessels may suffer the crush as well, depending on how massive your visceral fat is. Free fatty acids and other unidentified harmful biochemicals released from the visceral fat can easily penetrate into the bloodstream. These free fatty acids and biochemicals can disrupt the proper production of hormones, affect the normal functioning of vital organs and cause metabolic disorder as a result.
BMI and Health Risk Charts
|Asian BMI (kg/m²)||Non-Asian BMI (kg/m²)||Category|
|< 18.5||< 18.5||Underweight|
|18.5 - 22.9||18.5 - 24.9||Normal|
|23 - 27.4||25 - 29.9||Overweight|
|> 27.5||> 30||Obese|
If your BMI classifies you as 'Overweight' or 'Obese', then you'll have a higher health risk. But because BMI doesn't reflect true fat distribution in your abdominal area, waist girth is required to provide a more accurate analysis of your health risk.
Health Risk Chart (Asian)
|Men's Waistline||Women's Waistline||Health Risk|
|< 35.5 inches (90 cm)||< 31.5 inches (80 cm)||Low|
|> 35.5 inches (90 cm)||> 31.5 inches (80 cm)||High|
Health Risk Chart (Non-Asian)
|Men's Waistline||Women's Waistline||Health Risk|
|< 40 inches (102 cm)||< 35 inches (89 cm)||Low|
|> 40 inches (102 cm)||> 35 inches (89 cm)||High|
Note: As Asian populations generally carry higher proportion of body fat compared to Caucasians of the same age, gender and BMI, plus Asians bear higher risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus at relatively low BMI levels, WHO (World Health Organization) has revised and set a lower BMI cut-offs to define health risk for Asians. The same holds true for waist circumference. Asians with relatively smaller waist circumference are more vulnerable to Type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.