The Difference between Being Overweight, Obese and Morbidly Obese

Published: 19th March 2010
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There is some confusion these days as to what being overweight and being obese really means. Some people refer to a heavy person as being overweight, but that's not always the case. Many sports professionals, particularly football players, are heavy but aren't truly overweight. That's because their body mass index (BMI) is skewed by their muscular build.

BMI is determined by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared. Since it ties height to weight in relative terms, it is considered a strong indicator of total body fat content.

Using BMI as the gauge, you are considered overweight if you have a body mass index of 25.0 to 29.9. If your BMI is 30.0 to 39.9, you're clinically obese. Those with a body mass index of 40.0 and more are considered morbidly obese.

Following is an example for a 5'9" person:

Weight Range BMI Considered

124 lbs or less Below 18.5 Underweight

125 lbs to 168 lbs 18.5 to 24.9 Healthy weight

169 lbs to 202 lbs 25.0 to 29.9 Overweight

203 lbs or more 30 or higher Obese

Morbid obesity is a serious health issue. It means that a person weighs 50 percent to 100 percent more than their normal weight or that they are over 100 pounds above their normal weight. This condition is life threatening since it can seriously interfere with normal activities as well as natural body processes.

The standards applied to determine who is overweight and who is obese are different for children and teens. While the BMI is calculated the same, the results are compared against children of the same sex and age. If a child falls in the 85th to 95th percentile of their peers, they are considered to be overweight. If they are above the 95th percentile, they are diagnosed as obese. This valuation of BMI allows professionals to take into account differences in body fat at various ages and the different levels of body fat between boys and girls.

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