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Defining obesity

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Obesity is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as anyone who has a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30.

To calculate your BMI, divide your weight in pounds by your height in inches, squared, then multiply that number by 703:

weight (lb) / [height (in)]² x 703

The CDC associates the following weight categories with BMI numbers:

  • BMI below 18.5 - underweight
  • BMI from 18.5 to 24.9 - normal weight
  • BMI from 25 to 29.9 - overweight
  • BMI of 30 and above - obese

For some people, like athletes, high BMIs may not indicate that they are at unhealthy weights despite being in an unhealthy range, since BMI numbers don't directly measure body fat.

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