Assess Your Body Weight

Are you underweight? Overweight? Obese?

If you’re not sure, then this article will assist with the assessment of your weight and how much body fat is healthy, along with how being overweight can cause certain lifestyle diseases.

What Is the Body Made Of?

Many Body Types

These are divided into 2 main categories:

Android

  • Typically in men
  • Apple shape (Visceral Fat)

Gynoid

  • Typically in women
  • Pear shape (Subcutaneous Fat)

How Does Body Fat Change with Age?

A natural and progressive substitution of lean mass by fat mass during ageing modifies the percentage of adipose tissue, going from 15% at the age of 20 to around 30% by the age of 75.  (NOTE: BMI does not take age into consideration)

How Much Body Fat Is Healthy?

The ideal proportion of body fat varies according to gender, age and body type.  Biologically, women should have more body fat than men.  As we get older, our body fat percentage will also increase slightly.

What Is Obesity?

Simply put:

Overweight:                     

  • Your weight is >10-20% than your ideal weight

Obesity:                            

  • Carrying excess body fat (refer to body fat tables below)
  • Your weight is > 20% of your ideal weight

Morbid obesity:              

  • Your weight is ≥100% of your ideal weight

Have a look at the below 3 obese women with the same BMI but who differ in the distribution of adipose mass

Body Mass Index (BMI)

The BMI is a standardised ratio of weight to height, used as a general indicator of health.

Calculate your BMI by dividing your weight (in kilograms) by the square of your height (in meters).

You can use this quick BMI calculator: https://bmicalculatorsouthafrica.com/

What Does My BMI Value Mean?

BMI ranges are classified according to the disease risk your weight may have*.


For adults over 18 years old, BMI falls into 1 of the following categories:

*Adapted from WHO and 2013 AHA/ACC/TOS Guideline for the Management of Overweight and Obesity in Adults

The BMI is not perfect as it does not take your age, gender or physical activity into account, but it is a very useful tool used worldwide to identify people at risk of disease due to excessive weight.

BODY COMPOSITION: LOOKING SPECIFICALLY AT BODY FAT

A more accurate measure of obesity is a body composition report showing what percentage of your weight is body fat:

  • Body Fat Percentage is the proportion of fat to the total body weight. Body Fat Mass is the actual weight of fat in your body.
  • Body fat is essential for maintaining body temperature, cushioning joints and protecting internal organs.
  • The energy, or calories, our body needs comes from what we eat and drink. Energy is burned through physical activity and general bodily functions. If you consume the same number of calories as you burn, all the calories are converted into energy. But if you consume more than you burn, excess calories are stored in fat cells. If this stored fat is not converted into energy later, it creates excess body fat.
  • Too much fat can damage your long-term health. Reducing excess levels of body fat has been shown to directly reduce the risk of certain conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.
  • Too little body fat may lead to osteoporosis in later years, irregular periods in women and possible infertility.
  • It is important to check your body fat results against this table of healthy body fat ranges. These measurements are available for everyone from age five to 99 years.
  • Body fat is measured on a Body Composition Monitor: e.g. a Tanita body Fat Scale or Innerscan. These scales measure not only weight but by means of a bioelectrical impedance measurement, it measures percentages of fluid, fat and muscle in the body.

Healthy Body Fat Ranges for Standard Adults

Waist to hip ratios also give very good indications of whether one is merely overweight or obese:

For every extra kilogram gained over and above ideal weight, the heart must pump blood through an extra kilometre of blood vessels…

Regardless of how it is measured and monitored, being overweight and definitely being obese is a direct cause of CHRONIC DISEASES OF LIFESTYLE such as:

  • HEART DISEASE AND STROKE
    • A major killer in obese people, due to a blockage in the blood flow to the heart &/or the brain
  • High Blood Pressure
    • Which also causes stroke, kidney disease, heart disease
  • DIABETES
    • Bad eating habits can cause obesity and sugar cravings, which in turn can cause the body’s cells to become more resistant to the action of INSULIN.
    • If no dietary or lifestyle changes are made then diabetes can result.
  • SKELETAL PROBLEMS:
    • BACK PROBLEMS
    • HIP PROBLEMS
    • FEET AND ANKLE PROBLEMS
    • SORE JOINTS
  • CERTAIN CANCERS:
    • COLON
    • BREAST
    • LIVER
    • KIDNEY
  • FERTILITY PROBLEMS AND POLYCYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME