Obese Definition: Not “Overweight”

Article posted in: Lifestyle

We hear the terms “overweight” and “obese” used so frequently, and often interchangeably, that you might believe they mean the same thing. But to health experts, these words have very specific meanings. And for all of us striving to reach our ideal weight, the difference is important to understand. Here’s what you need to know:


Body Mass Index
The Body Mass Index is the measurement that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and many physicians use to assess whether a person is overweight or obese. BMI is a ratio calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared. To figure out your BMI, you can skip all the converting and math and just go to the National Institutes of Health’s easy-to-use calculator.

A BMI that’s 25 to 29.9 is within the overweight range, while 30 and higher is defined as obese. When BMI reaches 40 or more, it’s categorized as Class 3 Obesity, or “extremely obese.” Research from the CDC shows that approximately 70 percent of U.S. adults were overweight as of 2015, and almost 40 percent of those people meet the definition of obese. About five percent are extremely obese.

The differences go beyond the BMI numbers. “Overweight,” according to the NIH, “refers to an excess amount of body weight that may come from muscles, bone, fat and water. Obesity refers to an excess amount of body fat.”

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Bear in mind that BMI is not a direct measure of body fat or a diagnosis of a person’s overall health. However, people who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk of a variety of unhealthy conditions. Here are just a few of them, with statistics compiled by researchers from the Harvard University School of Public Health:

1. Diabetes
About 80 percent of people who have type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese, possibly because of a change in cells when an individual gains weight. It makes sense, then, that the Nurses’ Health Study also found a 93 percent higher risk of type 2 diabetes in women with a BMI over 35.

2. Heart disease
Overweight people face a 32 percent higher risk of developing heart disease. Obesity increases the risk to 81 percent.

3. Strokes
Being overweight increases the risk of stroke by 22 percent, obesity raises the chance by 64 percent, based on information from the Harvard School of Public Health.

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The good news is that you can reduce your body fat and limit your risks of suffering from these serious conditions with simple steps. Chances are, you are already making some of these moves yourself. The first and most important thing to tackle is healthy weight loss, guided by an expert such as those at Nutrisystem. Choosing more nutrient-dense foods and appropriate portion sizes are the first steps, but bear in mind that safe, sustainable weight loss is not about merely eating less. Remember these other basic guidelines to losing excess body fat:

1. Focus on the right fats.
Eliminating all fats from your diet is not necessary, or even helpful. Your body needs fat to burn for energy and help absorb other nutrients from your food. Just stick to healthy fats, such as the monounsaturated fats found in avocados and olives, nuts and nut butters.

2. Consume lean protein.
You need protein for energy and a strong, healthy body strong, but high-protein foods can be loaded with unhealthy fats. Choose lean sources of protein, or PowerFuels, such as turkey, seafood and beans, as often as possible.

3. Get the good carbs.
Simple carbohydrates such as white flour and white sugar are low in nutrients and burn off quickly, leaving you hungry shortly after eating them. This can lead you to consume more calories than you need. Instead, fill up on complex carbohydrates (or SmartCarbs), like vegetables and fruits, and slow-burning whole grains.

4. Reevaluate portion sizes.
While eating less food isn’t the easy answer to reducing your body fat, understanding appropriate portion size is critical. Your Nutrisystem weight loss plan is designed to help you learn about proper portion sizes and and get accustomed to dishing out the right size meals and snacks for you. Eating healthy foods in the proper portion size is not magic, but it is certain to help you get down to your ideal weight. Click here to learn the difference between serving size and portion size.>

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