When are you overweight?

Overweight, obesity, obesity and adiposity are names for excessive body weight compared to body height, due to excessive fat storage. The terms obesity, obesity and adiposity are often used specifically for serious forms of overweight. Approximately 10% of Dutch people are seriously overweight.

Criterion of overweight

In general, the BMI (Body Mass Index) or Quetelet index (QI) is used to assess obesity in adults. For this purpose, body weight in kilograms is divided by the square of the height in meters. A result between 18.5 and 25 indicates a healthy weight. Body weight below 18.5 is too low. Between 25 and 30 we speak of moderately overweight and at 30 or more we speak of overweight with a clearly increased risk to health. A value above 30 is considered obese.
The fat in the body has several functions, including that of reserve energy. The body fat is mainly located under the skin and around the organs. You can determine the amount of fat in your body by using a skinfold measurement. The amount of body fat for a healthy adult man is 10 to 25% of the total body weight and for women this is 20 to 35%. If more fat is present, such a person is considered seriously obese.
On average, women have a higher body fat percentage than men. However, in women, fat is mainly located on the hips and thighs, which is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than the fat distribution in men, whose fat is mainly stored in the abdominal cavity. Nowadays, the waist circumference (waist test) is used as a basis because it is easy to determine. The waist test is done using a centimeter that should not be pulled too tight.


  • < 80 cm: no increased risk; maintain weight
  • 80 – 88 cm: the risk limit is being approached; don’t arrive anymore
  • > 88 cm: increased risk: try to lose weight



  • < 94 cm: no increased risk; maintain weight
  • 94 – 102 cm: the risk limit is being approached; don’t arrive anymore
  • >102 cm: increased risk; Try to lose weight


Causes of obesity

In most cases, obesity is the result of a disturbed energy balance: energy intake has been higher than energy output for some time. The possible causes of an excessively high energy balance can be further specified as follows.

  • Changes in lifestyle such as insufficient exercise, mechanization of work, passive recreation and increased use of sweets and snacks
  • Taking out emotions by eating and drinking a lot or often
  • Environmental factors, which concerns learned nutritional behavior in a family
  • Metabolic diseases
  • Insufficient functioning of the satiety mechanism
  • Genetic defects


Problems with being overweight

Being overweight can cause both psychosocial problems and physical complications.

  • Being too fat is frowned upon in our society, where slim is the norm. people assume that the excess weight is entirely their own fault and attribute little self-control to the overweight person. The result is that fat people are taken less seriously and are confronted with their excess weight in all kinds of situations in an unpleasant way.
  • Shortness of breath and increased need for insulin and reduced glucose tolerance can be the physical consequences of being overweight. The risk of a number of conditions increases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, joint strain and gout.


Measures for obesity

In addition to an energy-restricted diet, increased activity is recommended if you are overweight. Losing weight is about losing fat tissue: 1 kg of fat tissue in the body contains 31.5 MJ (7500 kcal). If someone who wants to lose weight consumes 9.2 MJ (2200 kcal) per day and absorbs 4.2 MJ (1000 kcal), he will have to obtain 5.0 MJ (1200 kcal) from his fat tissue per day. After more than six days he has extracted 31.5 MJ (7500 kcal) from his fat tissue. This corresponds to kg of fat tissue. Weight loss of 5 – 10% already has a positive effect on health.

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