The Skinny On Obesity—Breaking Down the BMI

About 66% of adults and 31% of children in the United States are either overweight or obese. This has led to a rise in obesity-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes among adults and, increasingly, among obese children. While being obese can change how we look and how we fit (or don’t fit) into our clothes, it can also lead to serious medical, psychological, and social problems. Obesity can impact our overall quality of life.

Simply defined, obesity is the result of an energy imbalance over an extended period of time. If we have a pattern of taking in more calories than we can burn off, our bodies store the extra calories as fat, increasing our risk of health problems.

Genetics also plays a role, since obesity tends to run in families. Our environment and the choices we make every day are additional factors–choosing unhealthy foods (fast food, sugary beverages, high-calorie / low-nutrient snacks); eating large portions (super-size meals); and leading less active lifestyles (driving, TV, video games, and computers) can all contribute to obesity. Stress, depression, and boredom can often lead us to reach for “comfort foods” like potato chips or ice cream, resulting in intake of “empty” calories.

Your doctor uses a measure called body mass index (BMI) to determine if you are underweight, normal, overweight, or obese for your height and weight.

BMI Categories for Adults

BMI percentiles are obtained by plotting a person’s BMI number on CDC’s (Centers for Disease Control) BMI growth chart, taking into account the person’s age and gender.

BMI Percentiles for Children
AMA Expert Committee Recommendations, 2007

If you or your child are overweight or obese, you may be at risk for certain health conditions and should consult your physician or pediatrician. It’s never too late to start making positive changes and to take simple steps towards a healthier you.

by Harvinder Sareen, PhD

To calculate your child’s BMI Percentile, go to and

ABILITY Magazine
Articles in the Scott Caan issue; Humor — I Do?; Ashley’s Column — Breaking News; ABILITY House — Laura’s Story; Sen. Tom Harkin — SSA Backlog; Bonner Paddock — King of the Mountain; Adam Lee — Inspiration Through Inflation; Conan's Concussion Junction — Head Injury for Dummies; Bad Boys — EEOC Tackles Job Discrimination; Straight From the Heart — Vascular Disease and You; Pluck O’ The Irish — Exploring the Emerald Isle; Taking the Sky — Paraplegic Adventurer Flies Again; USBLN — Business Leadership Celebrates Disability; Scott Caan — Entertainer Makes Waves for Autism; Blue Cross — Insurance Expert on Health Care; The Skinny On Obesity— Breaking Down the BMI; Tap Into Your Potential — An Excerpt from Wise Mind; ABILITY's Crossword Puzzle; Events and Conferences... subscribe

Oct/Nov 2009

Excerpts from the Scott Caan issue:

Scott Caan — Interview

Pluck O’ The Irish — Exploring the Emerald Isle

Blue Cross — Insurance Expert on Health Care

Conan's Concussion Junction — Head Injury for Dummies

The Skinny on Obesity - Breaking Down the BMI

Straight from the Heart — Vascular Disease and You

Humor — I Do?

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