The first step in determining whether or not you need to research weight loss medications is to evaluate your weight. Understanding if you’re overweight and if so, to what degree, is essential in determining whether or not you are a good candidate for weight loss medications. Xenical and other prescription medications are targeted at those people who are significantly overweight. For this reason, the FDA has only approved these medications for use in patients with a significantly high Body Mass Index.
Steps should be taken, as discussed below, to determine whether you are a good candidate for weight loss medications. These steps include assessing your Body Mass Index (BMI) and waist circumference.
Evaluating your body weight is an easy task. Body Mass Index (BMI) and Waist Circumference are the two most popular, quick methods to determine body weight.
The Body mass Index (BMI)
The Body Mass Index is a measure of body fat that takes considers a person’s weight in relation to their height. The scale below indicates how BMI numbers are linked to obesity.
BMI of 18.5-24.9 - Healthy Weight
BMI of 25-29.9 - Overweight
BMI of 30 or higher - Obese
Just because a BMI measure falls into the healthy range does not necessarily mean that a person is at their ideal weight. Anyone who has too much body fat and too little muscle should concentrate on loosing the excess body fat. As well, those with a BMI slightly above the healthy range may be at a good body weight, but simply have an
abundance of muscle. This is valid only for a measure just slightly above the healthy range. Having a BMI above the healthy range puts those people at risk of any number of health problems linked with body weight.
People who have a BMI above the healthy range should talk to their doctor about their potential health risks and work out a weight loss plan.
Waist circumference is just what it sounds like - a measurement of the waist. This measure of body fat takes body shape into account. Body shape is important in that it can put people at higher or lower risk for weight related health complications. Pear shapes are those people who carry excess weight on the lower part of the body, including hips and thighs. Apple shapes carry excess weight around the upper body and waist. Health risks associated with excess body fat in apple shapes are considered higher than pear shapes, due to the excess weight around the abdomen.
Healthy waist circumference measures:
Healthy men - less than 40 inches
Healthy women - less than 35 inches
Most increases in weight circumference in adults are associated with increased body fat.
Take the time to calculate both your BMI and waist circumference, as these measures provide a very sound basis to determine whether you are overweight, and if so, to what degree. Those who’s BMI falls into the obesity category should discuss weight loss with a qualified health care practitioner.
Revision date: June 18, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD