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As many of us well know, our expanding waistlines are at epidemic proportion in America. For those who are dubious, epidemic, according to Webster-Merriam online dictionary means, "affecting or tending

to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community or region at the same time."

When a person is twenty percent or more above their normal weight in terms of fat mass, then that particular person is considered obese. Morbid obesity is when a person is either fifty to a hundred

percent over normal weight, more than one hundred pounds over normal weight, or so overweight that the extra baggage greatly interferes with the health of normal daily functions.

Many of us have been carrying around some extra baggage for so long and have become so desensitized to our slowly ascending dress sizes, and have become so used to referring to ourselves as "healthy" and

"voluptuous" that we may not even realize there may be a body fat issue. The Body Mass Index, or BMI assessment can be helpful. This is used by health professionals to determine if a person is underweight, overweight or within a healthy weight range.

BMI does not distinguish the difference between the weight of fat and the weight of muscle, which is exponentially more. Because of this, it is not always accurate as far as the prediction of health concerns. For

instance, a bodybuilder or someone with a lot of muscles may have a BMI that is numerically in the unhealthy range, even though they may be healthy as oxen.

BMI might also fall short of accurately reflecting body fat in people who are very short (under 5 feet) and in older people who tend to lose muscle mass as they age. It can also be inaccurate for some racial and ethnic groups

like African-American and Latino American women, who tend to have different body types than Caucasian and Asian women, for example.

The location of fat on your body is important. Those who carry fat mainly around their waists may be more likely to develop health issues than those who carry their extra baggage in their hips and thighs. Even if your BMI

falls within the normal range, this is true.

To measure your waist circumference, place a tape measure around your naked abdomen just above your hip bone. The tape should be snug, parallel to the floor and shouldn''t compress your skin. Relax and exhale as you measure your waist.

Women with a waist measurement of more than thirty five inches or men with a waist measurement of more than forty inches may have a higher risk than people with smaller waist measurements.

Age can also be a factor. As you get older, your body''s metabolism slows down and it doesn''t require as many calories to maintain its weight. So, this is why you may be forty years old with a similar lifestyle to when you were twenty

but may notice a slight difference: at twenty you didn''t gain weight, but now at forty, you have gained weight. In addition, certain drugs, like steroids and some antidepressants, may cause excessive weight gain.

Females generally tend to experience unwanted weight gain more than men. Men burn more calories when they rest, so they require more calories to maintain their body weight. Also, when women enter the doors of menopause, their metabolic

rate decreases significantly, which is partly why women gain so much weight after menopause. For more info go to The Zone Diet Nutrition Zone and find more useful tips.

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