The number on the scale only tells you your weight, and while weight compared with height (your body mass index or BMI) can be an indicator of risk factors for certain weight-related diseases, it’s only one measure of many necessary to determine your overall health.

Furthermore you may be classified as overweight based on your height and weight (BMI), thus shown “at risk” for disease, but if you are a muscular exerciser with low body fat, weight means very little by itself to your health. So as long as your body fat is in the healthy range shown below, weight or BMI would generally be a non-factor in defining your health. Additionally only a complete physical examination can determine your overall health. Another tool that may be of interest to you in preserving your health throughout life is waist circumference (waist-to-hip ratio can be a measurement of abdominal fat distribution). This, along with BMI, has been shown to correlate strongly with health risks (e.g. heart and metabolic disease). Click Assessing your Risk <> from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute for more information. And finally, we always prefer using a body fat measurement for assessing health risk related to weight but it’s not always practical, which is why other measurements are more commonly used.

        * Studies reveal that the typical female college athlete has from 18 to 22 percent body fat and the typical male college athlete has 14 - 17 percent body fat (11).

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