DOCTOR'S VIEW ARCHIVE
Overweight And Obesity Guidelines
In June of 1998, the National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) updated the guidelines for the definition and treatment of obesity.
The NIH guidelines no longer utilize the traditional height/weight charts for defining obesity that insurance companies have relied on for years. According to these new guidelines, assessment of overweight involves evaluation of three key measures-body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and a patient's risk factors for diseases and conditions associated with obesity.
Below are listed some of the new guidelines. These guidelines present a new approach to the assessment of overweight and obesity and establish principles of safe and effective weight loss.
The body mass index (BMI) equals a person's weight in kilograms (kg) divided by their height in meters (m) squared. Since BMI describes body weight relative to height, it is strongly correlated with total body fat content in adults.
To estimate BMI using pounds and inches, use the weight in pounds (lb) divided by the height in inches (in) squared and multiply the result by 704.5.
"Overweight" is defined as a body mass index (BMI) value of 27.3 percent or more for women and 27.8 percent or more for men. These definitions of overweight are based on an analysis of BMI relative to the risks of disease and death.
"Obesity" is defined as a BMI of 30 and above. A BMI of 30 is about 30 pounds overweight. (Notably, some very muscular people may have a high BMI without health risks).
According to the NIH guidelines, the most successful strategies for weight loss include calorie reduction, increased physical activity, and behavior therapy designed to improve eating and exercise habits. Recommendations include:
This information should be used as a compliment to MedicineNet's article on the topic which can be found in the Obesity Center.
You can calculate your own BMI by reading the MedicineNet.com article, Calculate Your BMI.
Last Editorial Review: 7/25/2002