Obesity has been an increasing health issue for the past decade or two and it seems that this condition is quite widespread among adults.  Current estimates demonstrate that one in every three adults are obese, suggesting that a large portion of the population is at risk for adverse health conditions.

While obesity is rampant among a wide range of adults, recent trends suggest that the obesity rates appear to be leveling off.  Even though obesity rates are steady, one in every three adults could stand to lose some weight.  The content ahead is a guide on obesity, how it is defined, common ways to measure, and how you can take the steps to fight the condition.

What is Obesity?

Obesity is a condition in which your body carries too much fat.  Carrying too much body fat can lead to other health illnesses and diseases, which is why it has recently been designated as a disease.

Given that obesity is a disease, many health conditions are closely associated with obesity.  Conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and others are known to be caused by obesity, which is one reason why preventing or combating obesity is important.

How is Obesity Defined?

There are varying ways in which you can define obesity and while it is easy to define it as having an excess of body fat, it is better to perform measurements.

The body mass index, or BMI, is commonly used as a way to assess your height and your weight.  Let’s take a look at the varying BMI categories and how obesity falls in the chart.

Normal Range

The normal BMI range is generally where you want to be in for overall optimal health.  This normal BMI range means your overall BMI value falls between 18.5 and 24.9, so finding this range could help you when trying to determine how much weight you should plan to lose if you are considering a weight loss program.


This next BMI level is the overweight range.  This range has some merit when it comes to your health and some older adults tend to have better longevity when falling in this BMI category.  To be categorized as overweight, your BMI value should fall between 25 and 29.9.

Obesity I

There are a few different types of obesity categories to pay attention to.  This first category is obesity I, or lower obesity.  To fall in this category, your BMI value should fall between 30 and 34.9.

Obesity II

This next obesity category is considered to be more severe than the first obesity range and typically more health issues come about with this category.  In order to be classified in this level, your BMI should fall between 35 and 39.9.

Obesity III

Technically considered to be morbid obesity, obesity class III is one of the riskiest classifications when it comes to your health.  To be considered morbidly obese, your BMI should be at least 40 and higher.

What are Common Methods for Defining Obesity?

One of the most common ways to define obesity is by using the BMI chart.  However, there are some negative aspects to using this chart.  For starters, the BMI only looks at your height and weight and makes assumptions based off your body habitus.

In addition, the BMI does not describe how much body fat or muscle mass you carry on your body, which could cause errors.  With that said, it is important to be precise when having the obesity designation and one of the best ways to define obesity is to actually measure your body fat levels.

Popular Methods for Measuring Body Fat

Measuring body fat is important for classifying your level of obesity, if you are considered obese.  Listed ahead are some common methods for measuring body fat in addition to a brief description of each method.

Skin Calipers

The first method for assessing your body fat is to estimate your total body fat from a few areas on your body.  The skin caliper method for estimating your body fat is one of the simplest and most affordable techniques, but it requires a great deal of expertise from the person doing the measurement.  Consider this to be an accurate way to estimate your body fat percentage.

Bioelectric Impedance

This next method for measuring your body fat percentage is with the use of a small current.  Commonly found on standard house scales and handheld devices, the bioelectric impedance sends a small electrical current through your body tissue and measures the total amount of impedance as it travels.  It is an accurate method for measuring body fat and it is a viable option to have at home as well.

Water Displacement

The water displacement body fat measurement was once considered to be the gold standard in measuring your body fat and today, it is still considered to be highly accurate.  This method involves submerging your body under a known amount of water and having the subject exhale all air from the lungs without allowing any water to enter the body.  It is a challenging task to have the subject completely eliminate all air from the lungs, but it is very accurate.  This method is not widely used anymore.


A widely growing body fat measurement technique is the BOD POD.  Known as air displacement plethysmography, the BOD POD measures your body weight, body composition, as well as your body fat.  This is a reasonable option to use if your gym offers it and consider regular checks to follow on your fitness program.


This last method for determining your body fat percent is with a DEXA scan.  The DEXA, which is known as dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, is considered the new gold standard for measuring your body composition.  It gives a complete description of your bone mineral density, body fat, muscle mass, and more.  While it is the gold standard for measuring body fat and gives exceptional readouts on your bone density, the DEXA is not a method that the general public can use, since it requires a doctor’s prescription.

Defining Body Fat Ranges

Now that you have information on what obesity is, how it is measured, and ways to determine your body fat percentage, you should know what your body fat measurement tells you.

There are differences between men and women when it comes to body fat percent.  There are a few different categories to pay attention with when you get your measurement.  Starting off with men, a body fat percent between six and 13 percent is considered an athlete’s range.  Anything below six percent is essential fat for your health.  Men who are fit have a body fat percentage between 14 and 17 percent.  An acceptable body fat percentage falls between 18 and 25 percent and anything above this level is considered obese.

In comparison to men, women generally carry more fat due to child bearing.  For this reason, the same categories for women apply, but the values are slightly different.  Athletes fall in the range between 14 and 20 percent and anything below 14 percent is considered essential body fat for women.  The next category is fit, which is a body fat value of 21 to 24 percent.  An acceptable body fat level is 25 to 31 percent and anything above this is considered obese for women.

Am I Overweight or Am I Obese?

One of the most common topics that adults want to know when assessing body weight is if they are fat or obese.  Consider the information above and take into consideration all of the information to make an informed decision.  If you use the BMI to assess whether or not you are obese, remember that BMI does not assess body fat values.  With that said, consider a complete body fat analysis to get a better idea of where your body habitus falls in the obesity chart.

Ways to Combat Obesity

There are a number of things that you can do to combat obesity.  If you find that you carry too much body fat or that your BMI is too high then consider some helpful tips to prevent or combat obesity.

Drink More Water

One way to prevent and fight obesity is to prevent overeating.  Drinking more water before a meal can help you to fill your stomach and it can save on calories. In addition, proper hydration can help to maintain your hunger hormones.

High Intensity Interval Training

An important aspect in fighting and preventing obesity is to exercise regularly.  High intensity interval training is one of the most efficient ways to workout and it can help shred fat when performed correctly.

Avoid Sitting

Consider taking sitting breaks throughout the day to cut back on the amount of time that you spend sitting.  Sitting promotes fat accumulation and taking short breaks can help to avoid fat buildup.

Daily Walks

Walking is a fun and easy way to burn calories and avoid sitting time.  Consider taking a daily evening walk around your neighborhood as a way to burn off extra calories and aim for a daily total of 10,000 steps each day for best results.

Avoid Alcohol

One important way to prevent or combat obesity is to avoid alcohol.  Alcohol promotes fat buildup in your body, similar to sitting, which is why it should be avoided on any weight loss program.

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