Assessing your weight to determine if you are obese involves two key measurements -- body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference.
A woman or man with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight; 30 or more is considered obese; and 40 or greater is considered extreme obesity. Women with a waist circumference over 35 inches and men whose waist measure over 40 inches are at greater risk.
Understanding your risk factors for conditions associated with obesity, according to clinical practice guidelines issued by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, is important. First, your healthcare professional should determine your BMI, which describes your body weight relative to your height. It is strongly correlated with total body fat content in adults. Your BMI is your weight in pounds divided by your height in inches squared, then multiplied by 703.
Charts that use the same mathematical principles as the BMI can provide figures for your ideal weight based on your height. For example, a height-weight chart that shows lower and upper limits of overweight, obese and extreme obesity can be found at multiple web sites by searching the keyword BMI.
Women in the highest obesity category have a significantly higher risk of hypertension and/or high blood cholesterol than women of normal weight.
And what about that waist circumference?
Unlike fat around the thighs, which is more common in women and is more likely to serve as an energy reservoir, abdominal fat delivers fatty acids directly into the bloodstream for immediate short-term energy, increasing triglyceride and, eventually, cholesterol levels. Healthcare professionals aren't certain why this proves detrimental to your health, but higher proportions of abdominal fat are associated with higher risks of insulin resistance, diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke). Women with a waist circumference over 35 inches (and men over 40 inches) are at greater risk.