How to evaluate if your body is at a healthy weight

Published 10:48 am Thursday, March 8, 2012

According to Johns Hopkins University, if you’re carrying around extra weight, you increase your risk for some very nasty health issues including diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease and stroke.
To determine if you’re weight is within a healthy range, you should know your BMI.
What’s BMI?  It’s your Body Mass Index – a measure of your weight in relation to your height. To find your BMI, multiply your weight in pounds by 703; then divide that number by the square of your height in inches.  A BMI of between 25 and 29.9 is overweight. A BMI of 30 and over is obese.
Your goal is to maintain a BMI below 25.
Interestingly, it turns out that it’s not just extra pounds that matter, but where on your body that you carry that extra weight, even if you have a normal body mass index under the recommended level.
This is especially true if you have that “middle-age tire” around your midsection, called abdominal obesity, because that “belly fat” increases your risk for health problems.
So what else do you need to know besides your BMI to determine if you’re at added risk?  The answer is that you should also know your waist circumference (distance around your waist), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) and waist-to-stature ratio (WSR) to get a more complete picture of your health. Here’s how to calculate these other important measurements:
•Waist circumference. This is a measure of abdominal fat. You can find your waist circumference by wrapping a tape measure around your waist at the top of your hip bones so that it’s snug but not tight. In men, a waist circumference of more than 40 inches indicates obesity. For women, the cutoff is 35 inches.
•Waist-to-hip ratio (WHR). With a tape measure, take the circumference of the smallest part of your waist and divide it by the circumference of the largest point of your hips (at the buttocks). A ratio of 0.8 for women or 1.0 for men is the cutoff value above which risk increases.
•Waist-to-stature ratio (WSR). This is a measure of your waist circumference at its smallest point, divided by your height in inches when standing barefoot.
To be inside of the healthy result range, your waist circumference should not be more than half of your height.
While all of this sounds like an advanced math class, it’s important, and recently appeared in an article in the February 1, 2012 edition of Nutrition and Weight Control.
Perhaps it’s time all of us, even those who think their weight is within normal limits, to brush up on our math skills and take out that old cloth measuring tape to determine if our current weight and size is really within normal, healthy ranges.  It might surprise you, I know it did me!
Ron Kauffman is a geriatric consultant and planner in private practice in Henderson & Polk Counties.  He is the author of Caring fo a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Disease, available at the Polk County Senior Center.  His podcasts can be heard weekly at You can reach him at his office at 828-696-9799, on his cell at 561-818-0039 or by email at

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