Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

2013 Edition
| Editors: Marc D. Gellman, J. Rick Turner


  • Elizabeth R. PulgaronEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1005-9_770



Being overweight is defined as being heavier than is healthy given a person’s height, gender, and age. This includes having more body fat than is desired. Being classified as an overweight adult consists of having a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 29.9. BMI is calculated by taking a person’s weight in kilograms and dividing it by the square of the person’s height in meters. For adults, a BMI of 25 is considered the 85th percentile. A similar calculation is computed to determine a child’s BMI; however, gender and age are also added into the equation to account for differences in expected body fat at different developmental levels according to gender. Although BMI is a generally accepted measure for obesity, it is not diagnostic since it is not a direct measure of body fat. Other measures of body fat distribution include skinfold thickness tests, waist circumference, calculation of waist-to-hip circumference ratios, ultrasound, computed tomography,...

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References and Readings

  1. CDC. (2009a). Overweight and obesity. Retrieved January 31, 2011 from http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/causes/health.html
  2. CDC. (2009b). Overweight and obesity. Retrieved January 31, 2011 from http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/defining.html
  3. Gortmaker, S. L., Must, A., Perrin, J. M., Sobol, A. M., & Dietz, W. H. (1993). Social and economic consequences overweight in adolescence and young adulthood. The New England Journal of Medicine, 329, 1008–1012.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ogden, C. L., Carroll, M. D., Curtin, L. R., Lamb, M. M., & Flegal, K. M. (2010). Prevalence of high body mass index in US children and adolescents, 2007–2008. Journal of the American Medical Association, 303(3), 242–249.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PediatricsUniversity of MiamiMiamiUSA