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Episode 1: Body Measurements

 

We discuss the different body measurements that can be used to assess and manage obesity.

Hello, everyone. Today we are going to talk about the different body measurements that we can use to measure obesity. The most common one that we use is of course bodyweight. Now I do see people often get fixated on the bodyweight itself, whereas it may not always be the most accurate measure of your obesity or your health. Now I’m not discounting body weight, because it is an important measurement. But there are certainly other interesting measurements that we’ll talk about today that may be of benefit and of great value with regards to obesity.

So let’s start with the bodyweight because that’s the basic measurement that we all know about. We all get onto the scale, and we measure our weight. There are certain rules for measuring body weight. Now I know it sounds silly that I’m gonna be telling you rules to measure body weight, it should be very straightforward. But yes, there are certain correct ways to measure body weight and there are certain incorrect ways to measure body weight.

  1. Whenever you’re measuring your body weight, it’s important that you’re wearing minimal close so that they don’t confound the weight reading.
  2. The other important thing to keep in mind is that the bodyweight does vary during the day, you have to measure it at the same time of the day whenever you measure it.
  3. One more thing about the bodyweight that is important is that different scales may give you different readings. So it is also important to keep the scale consistent.

BMI is the one measure that is most often used to define obesity, body mass index is calculated as weight divided by the height, and then whatever number you get, you divide that by the height again, and that becomes your body mass index. A body mass index between 18.5 and 25 is considered normal 25 to 30 is considered overweight. 30 to 35 is considered grade one obesity 35 to 40 is considered grade two obesity, and greater than 40 is considered grade three obesity.

Now, there are certain pitfalls with measuring BMI as well. A person who’s very muscular can have higher body weight because of the muscle mass, not necessarily having high body fat, which is what we are concerned about in obesity. So it does have its own advantages and disadvantages.

The other important thing to consider for BMI is that it varies between different ethnicities.

Now I’m going to share a secret with you. The next measurement that I’m going to talk about is actually very important. It has consistently been shown to be associated with cardiovascular risk time and again. I think it’s a very important measurement. And the measurement that I’m talking about is the waist circumference. It is important to know that what we worry about is the belly fat. That’s what is the unhealthy fat. So, people who have higher waist circumference have higher insulin resistance. And this has been shown in multiple studies. They have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and that is why that makes this measurement all the more important.

Another measurement that is of importance is the waist-hip ratio. Well, the waist-hip ratio is the ratio of your waist circumference to your hip circumference. Why is this important? If your waist circumference is high, that means you have a lot of belly fat, which is the unhealthy fat. The waist circumference should be less than the hip circumference. Normally, the waist-hip ratio should be 0.8 or lower for women and 0.95 or lower for men. Anything >1 actually signifies that your waist circumference is higher than your hip circumference, which signifies unhealthy belly fat. This measure has also been corroborated multiple times in various studies with adverse cardiovascular events.

There are certain other measures that we can of course to which are done in a clinical setting or sometimes even at the gyms. These include using a bio-impedance machine or sometimes in research, we use a DEXA scan. The advantages of these machines over your traditional measurements are that they do measure your exact body fat percentage. But again, there are certain errors that can occur. And you can still get most of the information that you need by measuring your weight, waist circumference, and your waist-hip ratio.

I hope this episode was helpful for you to understand some of the other important measurements in obesity. And I hope you will be incorporating these as well.

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