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How is obesity defined?

Richard Ricciardi
Advanced Practice Nursing
That is a great question and one that is still under study. Typically, obesity is defined in a child, adolescent or adult by a person having body fat measurements greater than some established cut point that is considered to be representative of a normal amount of body fat. For example, one way to define obesity is:  adult women with a waist circumference greater than 35 inches and adult men with a waist circumference greater than 40 inches are considered obese. Another way is to use a measurement called body mass index. None of these measurements are perfect but they can provide good information about how much fat you have on your body.
Marjorie Nolan Cohn
Nutrition & Dietetics

Obesity is a state of excess adipose tissue mass, or body fat. This condition usually translates into excessive body weight. On the one hand obesity can develop even in the absence of excessive body weight, whereas on the other hand a person (e.g., a body builder) can develop remarkable overweight without excessive body fatness. Meaning, ‘slim’ people can have a high fat mass and ‘overweight’ people (for their height) can have low fat mass.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.