Body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and health risk factors are three common screening tools used by OBGYNs to identify women who could be at risk for health problems due to high body fat percentages. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide a BMI calculator for adults at CDC Body Mass Index Calculator.
Normal BMI: 18.9 to 24.9.
Overweight Range BMI: 25.0 and 29.9
Obese Range BMI: 30 or above
The American Heart Association recommends waist circumference in women measure no more than 35 inches. To determine waist circumference, measure around your waist starting at the top of the hipbone, circling around the body and across the belly button.
Waist circumference is particularly important since abdominal obesity has been linked to a higher risk of premature cardiovascular disease. Even women with a large waist who are not overweight have a greater risk of heart disease than women with smaller waist circumference.
Risk factors for diseases associated with obesity should also be considered. Women with the following conditions are at greater risk for heart disease:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Physical inactivity
- Poor nutrition
- Excessive alcohol use
- Family history of heart disease
Not all risk factors, such as family medical history, can be changed. However, by addressing risk factors that can be controlled, it is possible to reduce the risk of premature heart disease.
Aim for a diet low in saturated fats that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables. Try to incorporate at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise (2 hours and 30 minutes) into each week. Limit alcohol to an occasional glass of red wine and if you smoke – quit.
Talk to your gynecologist about other ways to lose weight, increase activity and lower your risk of heart disease and cancer. Schedule an OBGYN appointment to talk about healthy lifestyle behaviors and how you can get started.