Sunday, July 4, 2010

What I Want to Know is… 'What Size is a Healthy Size?'

Welcome to the new Eights & Weights segment called ‘What I Want to Know is…’ where readers send in their questions, and based on the area of focus of reader’s questions, answers are provided. This time, a major area of focus is on what is determined to be a healthy size.

Now, because we are human, and humans are very visual creatures, we create impressions based on what we see. We all have markers in our heads for what size we think is healthy or not, and if a person goes below or above that, then we believe they are unhealthy. But is our dress size really a good marker for health?

As long as you are comfortable with your body, size is really not that important. Size helps us approximate weight, but it is not an absolute. The factors that are actually medically important are a person’s BMI (an approximation for the body fat ratio) and waist circumference.

BMI: The BMI (or Body Mass Index) is a number generated using the following formula:

So what really is the BMI? It is really just the weight to height ratio of an individual; that is how a person’s weight is distributed around their body. Right now, BMI is one of the reliable indicators of the body fat ratio of an individual. There are other methods that require machines (such as underwater weighing), but a person’s BMI can be calculated using the information at hand: Height and Weight. An unhealthy BMI can put a person at a higher risk for either obesity-related or underweight-related diseases.

Now, what’s a healthy BMI? This is dependent on factors such as gender, age, and race (yep, as I recently learned, even race). But in general, the following standards apply:

To calculate your BMI, use the widget at the bottom of this post.

Waist Size:  I can almost hear you go “What does waist size have to do with anything?” But studies have shown that men who have a waist size of more than 40 inches, and women who have a waist size of more than 35 inches, have a higher risk for diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and other heart diseases that may be tied to obesity.

These are some of the medically relevant factors in determining a healthy size. What do you consider a healthy size?

Two final points:
  • I couldn’t end this without bringing up the world cup. Ghana, you tried hard, and took us far. But I guess we’re still out. Africa weeps, man.
  • Again, thanks to those who nominated Eights and Weights for 11 categories in the Nigerian Blog Awards group B. My readers are the absolute bestest! Before I get all sentimental, I’ll just say that voting starts tomorrow July 5th. Be sure to click here to vote! Let’s bring those awards home :) 


  1. According to the index, I'm "underweight" (as if you couldn't already tell by looking at me, lol). I've been underweight all my life, and I can guarantee you I eat healthy enough (I probably even eat more fatty foods than I should). I think it's interesting that factors such as age and race affect one's BMI, but is there a fine print somewhere that accounts for people like me?

  2. Hi Miss Fab!
    The fine print is that BMI is only an indicator based on your height and weight. It is not a diagnostic tool. So it is helpful, but it is not the "be all and end all" since it doesn't include factors like age, muscle mass, activity level, and gender.
    As you grow older, and your metabolism slows down (Such a bummer, I know), you may see some changes start to kick in.
    But either way, I would still mention it on your next trip to the doctor just to see what his/her input is. If it raises any concerns with the doctor, only then should you be worried.
    I hope that helped :)

  3. Thanks for having a blog like this. love it.

  4. "We all have markers in our heads for what size we think is healthy or not" - lol! i can totally relate with this, it is very true, many people think like that! thanks for enlightening us about weights and sizes.

  5. this bmi calculator is berra watch it...

    Nice blog...n congrats on ur I c why...


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