So a recent study on perception of weight is particularly timely. I just posted the study on the Life-Cise News page. Researchers found that a large number of American women have misperceptions about their weight. Of the 52% of women who were actually overweight, 23% believed they were normal weight. Conversely, 16% of the normal weight women saw themselves as overweight.
Both of these misperceptions have some pretty serious consequences. The women who were overweight but saw themselves as normal weight were least likely to have tried to lose weight or made healthy lifestyle changes to reduce weight. And the normal weight women who believed they were overweight were most likely to have attempted some unhealthy weightloss method.
We know that maintaining a normal weight is one of the best things we can do for our health. Excess weight is strongly tied to heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, high blood pressure, and other health problems. But crash diets, some diet pills or diuretics can have serious health risks as well.
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a useful guide to judging weight. BMI is a ratio of weight (in kilograms) to the square of height (in meters). OK, so get your calculators out. Convert your weight in pounds to kilograms: divide weight by 2.2. Next, convert height in inches to meters: multiply inches by .0254. Finally, divide weight in kilograms by height in meters.
For example, a 154 pound person who is 5ft 8inches (68 inches) would have a BMI of 23.33.
154/2.2 = 70kg
68 (inches) x .0254 = 1.73
1.73 squared = 2.9929
70/2.99 = 23.3
Or you can go to the National Institutes of Health website and use their handy BMI calculator if you can't find your calculator.
BMI below 18.5 is considered underweight.
Normal BMI - 18.5 - 24.9
Overweight - 25.0 - 29.9
Obese - 30.0 or greater
BMI is somewhat limited. It doesn't take into account muscle mass. It may underestimate body fat in people who have lost a lot of muscle mass, or overestimate body fat in athletes. Even with it's limitations, it is still a useful tool.
So, head into the holidays with a realistic understanding of your weight. That way you can make realistic, healthy adjustments to your holiday eating.