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Excess Weight

Doctor's Terms

  • Visceral Fat: a coating of fat on the abdominal organs. Visceral fat contributes to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
  • Subcutaneous Fat: fat found just beneath the skin. Excess subcutaneous fat results in excess weight gain.
  • BMI: a formula that uses height and weight to determine your body mass index (BMI). It is calculated by taking your weight, multiplied by 703, then divided by your squared height.
  • Obesity: obesity is a medical condition in which excess fat becomes dangerous to one's health. It is a step worse than being overweight. This is a person who is more than 20% above the healthy weight range for their height.

Information And Treatment

It only takes three letters to describe one of the weightiest words: Fat. But not all fat is created equal.

Visceral fat is practically invisible, collecting internally around major abdominal organs. It plagues mainly sedentary individuals. Even the naturally skinny (but lazy) can be victimized by visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat is the kind most people are all too familiar with - the fat that rolls over your waistband and pools under your chin. It's pinchable, pullable, pokeable, and resides just under the skin.

Aside from looking in a mirror, excess weight is determined by calculating one's body mass index (BMI). The BMI is a formula based on height and weight, and it separates people into four categories: underweight, normal, overweight, and obese. One is typically considered obese with a BMI of 30 or higher.

Excess weight amasses over time due to decreased physical activity, changes in hormone levels, and a metabolism that slows with age, causing fat to be burned less efficiently. Women also tend to burn fat five to 10 percent more slowly than men (the retained fat is believed to be slated for fetus-nurturing). And though environmental factors contribute to excess weight, obesity is first and foremost inherited. Weight is linked to nationality and ethnicity, since genes can control metabolism speed and eating behaviors.

Age range: Excess weight can be a problem at any age, making it more important than ever to develop good habits early on. 68% of U.S. adults and almost one third of children are considered overweight.