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Weight, Obesity, and BMI


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To illustrate what these numbers translate to in pounds, the following information demonstrates various BMI categories for a person who is 5’9” tall.

There are two additional subcategories, morbidly obese and super morbidly obese. Morbidly obese represents people with a BMI of 40.0 to 49.9, and super morbidly obese refers to people with a BMI of 50.0 and above. Assessing weight with BMI also has its critics in the medical community. The problem with BMI to determine a healthy weight is that is does not account for how much muscle a person has. An extremely muscular person may be considered overweight according to BMI but could be healthy and fit. Consider, for example, the basketball player Shaquille O’Neal. At 7’1” and 325 pounds, O’Neal’s BMI is 31.6, which puts him in the “obese” category. Shaquille O’Neal is definitely not obese; he is extremely muscular, and therefore BMI is not a suitable evaluator of his health. A person also could have a normal BMI but be in poor nutritional health. Elderly people who have lost muscle due to inactivity might be considered a normal weight due to their BMI but in fact may have reduced nutritional reserves. For children and teens (ages 2 through 19), the criterion for overweight is slightly different than for an adult. For children and teens, BMI age- and sex-specific percentiles are used because the amount of body fat changes with age, and


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