Being overweight is a problem that should not be underestimated in the long run as it risks causing physical ailments, such as reduced mobility or fatigue of the internal organs, but also very serious psychological disorders. Poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle are the main causes of overweight and this is the right starting point for re-educating our body in the name of a healthy and active lifestyle.
In a society like ours where everything changes quickly, it becomes difficult to take time for yourself and quietly enjoy a simple healthy and nutritious lunch break. In fact, it happens very often that due to lack of time we have a quick lunch by consuming high-calorie meals, devoid of fruit and vegetables, which should instead be an integral part of a complete diet. Among the main causes of overweight, alongside an unbalanced diet, we find a sedentary lifestyle , hours and hours spent behind a desk and little physical activity in free time. In doing so, the body assimilates an excessive amount of calories that cannot be burned, favoring the development of diseases such as overweight and obesity .
These disorders are only the tip of the iceberg, as they can cause much more serious problems such as high blood pressure , cardiovascular diseases, metabolic diseases and diabetes. Diabetes is a constantly increasing disease: it is estimated that in Italy, 1 in 10 people are obese and more than 1 in 20 suffer from diabetic problems. Furthermore, 66.4% of people with diabetes are also obese or overweight, a percentage that clearly shows the relationship between obesity and diabetes.
Other causes that generate overweight problems are linked to bad habits such as smoking, alcohol and stress that cause further damage to human health, increasing the percentage of the risk of developing the aforementioned diseases. Taking care of the health of your body must therefore start from the table and then continue in everyday life, avoiding wrong behaviors and carrying out sports activities suited to your body and your inclinations.
In this article we will analyze the concept of body mass index , its calculation methods, then proceeding with the distinction between overweight and obesity, terms that are often used interchangeably. We will explore the various types of obesity index and the differences in weight both between men and women and between adults and children; in closing, we will provide advice on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
The body mass index to define overweight and obesity
Overweight and obesity are mistakenly considered the same thing , in reality it is appropriate to make the necessary distinctions. Overweight can be considered a simple ailment, while obesity is a real disease. People who have a body mass index between 30 kg / m² and 25 kg / m² are overweight. If the index exceeds 30 kg / m², then we can speak of obesity.
The body mass index can give rise to different levels of obesity divided according to the severity of the disease: – BMI between 30 and 34.9 involves a 1st degree obesity index (moderate risk for health); – BMI between 35 and 39.9 leads to a 2nd degree obesity index (high risk for health); – BMI over 40, a 3rd degree obesity index is configured (morbid obesity with a very high health risk).
Depending on the distribution of fat, obesity can be divided into abdominal or peripheral. In abdominal obesity , body fat is mainly distributed in the abdominal area, while in peripheral obesity the fat is distributed mainly subcutaneously in the buttocks, trunk, thighs and areas below the navel.
The calculation of overweight: the exact formula
The system most commonly used to calculate overweight is the body mass index (BMI) , also known as the Body Mass Index (BMI). This value provides excellent indications on the amount of body fat, even if it does not perform direct measurements on the fat mass or indicate how this is distributed on the body. The BMI values of each individual are obtained by dividing the weight (in kg) by the height (in meters) squared (kg / m²).
To understand how to calculate overweight, it is necessary to obtain the coefficient deriving from height and weight, and insert it in an evaluation grid divided as follows: normal weight, underweight, overweight and obesity. It is argued that the BMI must take into account gender and, therefore, a distinction must be made between men and women. In reality it is not always necessary, as the BMI values do not take into account the muscle mass , skeleton and fat of the subjects analyzed. Of course men, on average, have a larger musculature and bone structure than women, while the elderly have a more fragile and lighter musculature than the young; moreover, women have a higher percentage of fat essential for reproductive function.
How does BMI change from women to men?
To calculate BMI more accurately , however, an assessment of the bones and skeleton can be integrated. In this case, it is sufficient to take a simple measurement of the wrist of the non-dominant arm with a suitable metric tape.
The BMI grid for women is as follows:
thin constitution if the value is less than 15 cm;
normal constitution if the value is equal to 15-16 cm;
robust constitution if the value is greater than 16 cm.
The table of BMI values obtained for humans, on the other hand, is the following:
slender constitution if the value is less than 17 cm;
normal constitution if the value is equal to 17-18 cm;
robust constitution if the value is greater than 18 cm.
In summary, the BMI values of adults can be divided as follows:
below 16.5: severe thinness;
between 16 and 18.5: underweight;
between 18.5 and 25: normal weight;
between 25 and 30: overweight;
between 30 and 40: medium-grade obesity;
over 40: high-grade obesity.
How to calculate children’s BMI?
The calculation of the body mass index for children is different from the body mass index of the adult man as it is subjected to a considerable variability, deriving from both sex and age. Unlike men’s BMI and women’s BMI, an absolute value is not taken as a reference, but rather the percentile tables. The tables may vary according to the country and even the geographical area, but by international convention the Cole percentile table is used and the values expressed are the following:
below the 5th percentile: underweight;
5th to 85th percentile: normal;
85th to 95th percentile: at risk of being overweight;
above the 95th percentile: overweight.
Useful tips to solve the problems related to being overweight
If it is true that “ we are what we eat ”, eating well is of fundamental importance to aim for an optimal psychophysical state of health that can stem the problems of overweight . Healthy eating must be pursued every day, eating a little bit of everything without overdoing it. In a self-respecting diet, fruit and vegetables, foods rich in fiber, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants can never be missing. Foods rich in starch such as bread, potatoes, polenta, cereals and pasta should be consumed almost daily, as they contain carbohydrates that ensure a high energy value. The important thing is not to overdo the condiments and avoid taking other foods containing carbohydrates at the same time .
Milk and its derivatives provide the body with the right amount of calcium, but it is advisable to prefer fresh ones to seasoned ones, because they contain a lower fat content, while cream and butter, having a high content of animal fats, should be limited. Fish is a precious source of protein and omega 3, which in addition to preventing cardiovascular disease, is an excellent ally in fighting overweight . It is preferable to consume white meats and, on the contrary, limit the use of red meats and sausages.
But a healthy diet does not guarantee sufficient benefit to the body if it is not supported by constant physical activity. Sports activity strengthens muscles and joints , regulates metabolism and promotes better digestion which results in a fitter body. The respiratory system, which receives more oxygen, and the heart, less subject to pressure changes, benefit from this. Finally, sport also fights mood disorders, eliminates free radicals and negative toxins accumulated during the day and releases endorphins, also called the hormones of happiness. Even the psyche comes out strengthened, removing psychological diseases such as anxiety, stress and depression that can negatively affect obesity and overweight .
Sport is a fundamental element to prevent overweight and in this sense swimming is one of the most complete activities, both because it develops all the muscles of the body and because it takes place in a natural environment such as water, preventing trauma and injuries. Children and the elderly can safely play sports, naturally adapting it to their physical possibilities. We must not overdo it, the important thing is to practice physical activity regardless of age to enjoy the benefits it brings to the health of our body and mind. As the Latins said, mens sana in corpore sano . In conclusion, a healthy lifestyle accompanied by balanced nutrition and constant physical activity is the winning recipe for fighting obesity .