Overweight and obesity are different points on a scale that ranges from being underweight to being morbidly obese. Where you fit on this scale is determined by your body mass index (BMI).
BMI is a measure of your weight as it relates to your height. BMI usually gives you a good idea of the amount of body fat you have. Your healthcare providers use BMI to find out your risk for obesity-related diseases. Occasionally, some very muscular people may have a BMI in the overweight range. But these people are not considered overweight because muscle tissue weighs more than fat tissue.
In general, a BMI from 20 to 24.9 in adults is considered ideal. A BMI of more than 25 is considered overweight. A person is considered obese if the BMI is greater than 30 and is considered to have morbid obesity if the BMI is 40 or greater.
In general, after the age of 50, a man's weight tends to stay the same and often decreases slightly between ages 60 and 74. In contrast, a woman's weight tends to increase until age 60, and then begins to decrease.
Obesity can also be measured by waist-to-hip ratio. This is a measurement tool that looks at the amount of fat on your waist, compared with the amount of fat on your hips and buttocks. The waist circumference tells the amount of stomach fat. Increased stomach fat is associated with type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease. A waist circumference of more than 40 inches in men and more than 35 inches in women may increase the risk for heart disease and other diseases tied to being overweight.
Talk with your healthcare provider if you have questions about healthy body weight.