How to Lose Weight: Diagnosis of Obesity

The Difference Between being Overweight and Obesity- How can I Tell?
What is the difference between being overweight and obesity?
Most of my patients use the word “overweight” and “obesity” interchangeably. The two words are not synonymous.

The medical-dictionary definition of obesity describes it as ” a bodily condition marked by excessive generalized deposition and storage of fat.” This means that throughout the body there is an excess of fatty tissue stored beneath the skin. The key word is Fat.

Weight on the other hand is defined as ” a quantity of heaviness ” or “relative heaviness”. Overweight, then may be defined as over heaviness.

What constitutes body weight?
Your body weight is made up of several components and those such as fat, muscle, and bone vary according to age, sex and height.

What is a standard weight chart?

A standard weight chart is based on height, bone structure and sex and varies from small frame to large frame for men and women aged twenty-five and over. Desirable weights do not change after the age of twenty-five.

Can I be overweight in terms of my bone structure or muscle development and yet not be obese?

You might be five to ten kilos over the recommended weight of the chart and still not be obese, although you would “look obese” to most people. This means that to the naked eye you appear too fat, but actually your overweight is caused by extra heavy bone and extremely well-developed muscle. Large- framed and muscularly well-developed men, such as professional wrestlers, fall into this category.

What determines the degree of fatness or obesity?

It is the actual amount of “fat” deposited beneath your skin which determines your degree of fatness or obesity. Doctors often use a simple rule of thumb which gives them a general idea of the degree of obesity in persons above the age of twenty-five years. With reference to a standard weight chart, if you are more than :

ideal weight + 20% you are said to have clinical obesity.
ideal weight + 40% you are said to have gross obesity.

What about calculating the weight of people under twenty-five years of age?

Authoritative weight tables have not been prepared for persons under twenty-five, largely because growth patterns vary so greatly in the late adolescent and early adult period, that it is difficult to have a standardized table for it.

The following method is suggested to estimate desirable weights under twenty-five years of age: Subtract half kilo for each year of age from the weight given for each height. For example, at age eighteen for girls as tall as 5 feet 2 inches, the desirable weights would be : small frame – 40.5 to 44 kilos, medium frame – 46 kilos, large frame – 50 kilos.

At 5 feet 6 inches: small frame – 46 kilos, medium frame – 49.5 kilos, large – 53.5 kilos. Such a rule might apply down as far as seventeen years of age for girls and nineteen for boys, but not below.

Can I tell my degree of obesity ?

Yes, of course. There is a precise means of measuring obesity. Take a tape-measure and measure your chest and then your waist (in women the chest is measured beneath the breasts). The circumference of your chest should be at least four to six inches greater than that of your waist. If it is not, you are obese. You are carrying too much extra fat.

The simplest way of measuring the degree of obesity is simply to stand naked in front of a full length mirror and take a long, hard look. This necessitates complete self-honesty, not always easy for the obese person. But if you can muster the courage to admit to yourself the developing unwanted rolls of fat in the mind-section, thighs, upper arms, etc., you don’t need a doctor to tell you’re obese. But ‘you do need’ a doctor to advise you about the best and safest way to get down to your ideal weight.

If you plan to lose weight, first consult your doctor.

A general rule is that a scale measures overweight and a tape measures obesity. Fat is not as compact as muscle. It bulges. A tape-measure, or even a sensible look at your body, can tell you whether you are just fat or definitely obese.


If you wonder if it’s really fat, here are some revealing SIGNS you can look for: Stand erect, sink your chin into your chest, look-down. You must be able to see your toes without a turtle-like extension of the head. If not, you are fat.

How does my doctor tell if I am overweigh or obese ?

A relatively simple test which your doctor can perform in his clinic is the PINCH TEST or THE SKIN FOLD TEST. At a point midway between your shoulder and elbow, measured while your arm is hanging loosely, your physician pinches the skin with specially designed calipers or simply with his thumb and fore- finger. If the skin fold thickness is an inch and one- quarter or more, then he can be pretty sure your problem is something more than simple overweight.


Pinch a little flesh over the lower two or three ribs under your arm-pit. A pinch of more than one inch will mostly be your layer of extra fat.

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