Read Today’s News-Press Column: Body mass index useful to gauge healthy weight

Posted November 17th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in The News-Press Column

The holidays are gaining on us. Be careful, or the pounds will follow close behind. While you should enjoy the holiday season, keep a watchful eye on your calorie intake and weight by checking the scale. Another useful tool for tracking your weight is to calculate your body mass index (BMI).

Do you know if you are within a healthy weight range, overweight or even obese? Do you know how your weight measures up according to your height? BMI is a fairly good indicator of a person’s body fat based on height and weight. It also is used to assess your risk of certain weight-related health conditions.

To calculate your BMI, you will need to divide your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared and multiply that by 703. The formula is: weight/(height in inches)2 x 703.

A safe range for most healthy people is between 18.5 and 25. A number below 18.5 could indicate that you are underweight or even malnourished. If your number is above 25, you may be overweight. A BMI over 30 indicates that you could be obese.

This does not take into consideration different body types, including bodybuilders who accumulate an increased weight due to muscle. Because BMI is used to calculate weight and height, someone with large muscle mass and a low percentage of body fat may have the same number as someone who is obese.

Also, it could underestimate body fat if there is a lack of muscle mass in elderly people as well. It is good to keep in mind that this is just one factor to help measure weight. Additional factors to consider include waist circumference, physical activity, diet and lifestyle habits, including smoking.

As your BMI increases, so does the risk of developing diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Along with tracking your BMI, people can measure their waist to help determine if they are overweight or obese. Those who have a waist size of more than 35 inches for women, or more than 40 inches for men, have a higher risk of developing obesity-related health problems. Other risk factors for disease include family history, diet, blood pressure, cholesterol and activity levels.

While gaining a few pounds over the holidays is common, the pounds can quickly add up. Tracking your BMI is one of several important tools to help you understand your weight and potential risk of developing disease. If your BMI is in the overweight or obese range, you should consider contacting a professional to help you.

Regardless of your BMI, if you are planning to change your diet or exercise routine, you should consult a registered, licensed dietitian or your physician. For an at-home resource, you can track your healthy habits by visiting NETThealthyDiet. com for your free personalized diet profile, including your BMI and daily caloric needs.

Do you know your BMI? Take the BMI test.

Posted October 19th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Exercise Tips

A good way to check whether you are within a healthy weight range is to calculate your  ”body mass index” (BMI).  BMI is a fairly good indicator of a person’s body fat based on height and weight. It is also used to assess your risk of certain weight-related health conditions.

A BMI calculator can help you determine your status. Click here to take the BMI test:

  • If your BMI is less than 18.5, it falls within the “underweight” range.
  • If your BMI is 18.5 to 24.9, it falls within the “normal” or healthy weight range.
  • If your BMI is 25.0 to 29.9, it falls within the “overweight” range.
  • If your BMI is 30.0 or higher, it falls within the “obese” range.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has an online calculator to provide BMI and the corresponding BMI weight status category. Use their calculator for adults, 20 years old and older. For children and teens, 2 through 19 years old, use the BMI Calculator for Children and Teens.

Fuel up with healthy back-to-school breakfast ideas

Posted August 20th, 2009 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in Meal Tips

A better breakfast for better grades? Studies show that students who eat breakfast before starting school had a general increase in math grades and reading scores, increased student attention, reduced nurse visits, and improved behavior. If that’s not incentive, then let’s look at the negatives. Kids who don’t eat breakfast are less able to learn at school, get less iron (an important nutrient) in their diets, and are more likely to have a higher body mass index (BMI), which is a sign they may be overweight.

Here are some quick and easy breakfast ideas:

-Pancakes, French toast or waffles (try whole-grain or wheat)
-Cold cereal and milk
-Hot cereal, such as cream of wheat
-Whole-grain toast, bagels or English muffin
-Yogurt with fruit or nuts
-Fruit smoothie (add berries for extra nutrition!)

Make it fun for picky-eaters:
-Breakfast taco (eggs, shredded cheese on whole-wheat tortilla)
-Banana dog (banana with peanut butter and raisins on whole-grain bun)
-Fruit and cream cheese smiley sandwich

The bottom line: Don’t run out the door before fueling up with a healthy breakfast!