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Therapeutic strategy for an obese patient
Evidence in bariatric surgery (part 1)
Evidence in bariatric surgery (part 2)
Major options in the treatment of obesity
Frequency, cost and social consequences of obesity
The connexion between overweight and mortality
The benefits of surgery in morbidly obese patients
Causes and mechanisms of obesity
Regulation of the appetite
Causes and mechanisms of obesity
Measuring obesity
Home > Generalities > Measuring obesity

Measuring obesity

First, a brief introduction to illustrate how relative the criteria describing obesity have been :

In the United States, the definition of ' ideal weight ' which is based on height, was significantly lowered for women between 1943 and 1980, whereas it has remained virtually unchanged for men.
A debate arouse after a revision made in 1983 and women's ideal weight was reajusted to a higher level on the basis of new statistics on mortality. However, many experts saw this revision as a step back. In other words, the definition of normal or ideal body volume (body size) reflects the cultural and aesthetical standards of the time; medical discussions are also the reflection of these standards. The result is that for western societies like the United States, the current aesthetical ideal of body volume is thinner than the medical ideal.

Let us look at the figures. For a first estimate, weight is set against height. In this way we obtain the two common criteria used to measure excess weight which are :

>> Excess weight in relation to ideal weight for a given height

Weight is defined as follows:
For the man: ideal weight = height (cm) - 100 - (height-150/4)
For the woman: ideal weight = height(cm) - 100 - (height-150/2)

Example :
For a woman with a height of 1m 60, the ideal weight is of 160-100-10/2=55 kg
For a man with a height of 1m 60, the ideal weight is of 160-100-10/4=57.5 kg

- The body mass index, where weight is divided by the height squared

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Normal weight ranges between 20 to 25 kg/m2.
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Between 25 et 30 kg/m2 , one is described as being overweight.
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Severe obesity starts at 30 kg/m2. This corresponds to the definition of obesity given by the WHO (World Health Organisation).
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Morbid obesity is defined as from 40 kg/m2, or as from 35 kg/m2 provided that there are associated comorbidities related to excess weight


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skinfold thickness , which can be measured with a compass.
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Percentage of fat mass , which is measured with more sophisticated techniques such as the Bioelectric impedance; special weighing scales also exist.
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The waist-hip ratio measurement.
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