For a number of years, the Body Mass Index (BMI) has been used to evaluate excess body weight. This index is calculated using the following formula: weight in kilograms/height in meters.
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(A BMI between 20 and < 25 kg/m is considered normal. A BMI btween 25 and 30 is considered overweight and greater than 30 is known as obesity.)
Recently, several studies have shown that the accumulation of fat in the abdomen (abdominal obesity) is closely related to the risk of developing cardiac disease, high blood pressure and diabetes (the metabolic syndrome). So in addition to determining the BMI, one also has to evaluate where the excess weight is located. The best evidence of abdominal obesity is to measure the waist circumference.
To measure your waist circumference, use a measuring tape and place it half way between the lowest rib and the upper part of your hip (iliac crest).
Waist circumference indicating a risk:
- Men: greater than 102 cm (40 inches)
- Women: greater than 88 cm (35 inches)
Being overweight requires the heart to work more, makes it consume more oxygen, increases blood pressure, decreases good cholesterol and increases the risk of developing diabetes.
When one is overweight, a loss of 5 to 10% of the initial weight over a period of 6 months is recommended. Weight management can have a positive effect on risk factors (diabetes, high blood pressure, dyslipidemia…).
It is not always necessary to achieve the "healthy" weight. All weight loss has beneficial effects that last as long as there is no subsequent weight gain.
Regular physical exercise contributes to weight loss. This should be complemented with healthy eating habits.
Speak with your physician if you wish to have specialist advice. You will be directed to a nutritionist who will evaluate your eating habits and will give you advice and guide you through appropriate changes to make.
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