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Diagnosis of Obesity
- Body Mass Index (BMI)—A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight and 30 or higher is considered obese for adults.
- Waist circumference, sagittal diameter, and waist-to-hip ratio—Simple measurements that estimate the amount of fat deposited in the skin and inside the abdominal cavity. Waist-to-hip ratio greater than 1 in men or greater than 0.8 in women is considered obese. Waist circumferences that exceed 102 centimeters (40 inches) men or exceed 88 centimeters (35 inches) in women are associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
- Skinfold caliper—Most fat is deposited beneath the skin. This test measures fat just beneath the skin, but cannot measure fat inside the abdomen.
- Water displacement tests—Fat floats; the rest of your body tissues sink. Determining how well you float provides an estimated ratio of fat to body mass.
- Electrical measurements—A couple of tests calculate your percentage of body fat by measuring the difference between the electrical characteristics of fat and other tissues in your body.
- Blood tests—To rule out other medical conditions that may cause excess body weight, such as thyroid or adrenal disorders
Aim for healthy weight. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/lose%5Fwt/risk.htm. Accessed February 27, 2014.
Barlow SE, and Expert Committee: Expert Committee Recommendations Regarding the Prevention, Assessment, and Treatment of Child and Adolescent Overweight and Obesity: Summary Report. Pediatrics. 2007;120(Suppl)S164-S192).
Clinical guidelines on the identification, evaluation, and treatment of overweight and obesity in adults. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/ob%5Fgdlns.pdf. Published September 1998. Accessed February 27, 2014.
Deurenberg P, Deurenberg-Yap, Guricci S: Asians are different from Caucasians and from each other in their body mass index/body fat percent relationship. Obesity Rev. 2002;3:141-146.
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Heart-Health Risk Assessment. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/ToolsForYourHeartHealth/Heart-Health-Risk-Assessments-from-the-American-Heart-Association%5FUCM%5F306929%5FArticle.jsp. Updated November 13, 2013. Accessed February 27, 2014.
How Are Overweight and Obesity Diagnosed? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/obe/diagnosis.html. Accessed February 27, 2014.
Obesity in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 19, 2014. Accessed February 27, 2014.
Obesity in children and adolescents. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 8, 2013. Accessed February 27, 2014.
- Reviewer: Kim Carmichael, MD
- Review Date: 02/2014
- Update Date: 02/27/2014