Is Your Weight Normal?: January 25, 2011

What’s your immediate reaction when you step on the scale? Relief? Disgust? What about when you look at those around you? Do you think you’re heavier? Thinner? Normal? “I think the mindset is changing because the weight of Americans has changed dramatically in the past 20 to 30 years,” suggests Dr. Salvatore Lacagnina, Vice President of Health and Wellness for Lee Memorial Health System.

Scientists recently polled a group of people on how they perceive their weight. They found that 30% of those who thought they were of normal weight were actually overweight. 70% who considered themselves overweight were actually obese. “Given the fact that more people are overweight, it just looks like everybody is the same so the norm has become that most people are overweight.”

Carrying extra weight puts added strain on your heart, kidneys, lungs, and joints. It can also lead to diabetes. Dr. Lacagnina recalls seeing this same kind of mindset while talking to a man at an adventure park. “He waited for like 2 hours to get on this ride and it’s one of those rides where the top comes down and straps you in and he couldn’t fit in it. And he was so mad because obviously he waited 2 hours to get on this thing and he says to me, “Why don’t they make these things for normal size people?’ And this guy was probably about 250 pounds and I didn’t want to tell him but I was thinking to myself, ‘You’re not a normal size person for your height!’”

One way of determining your appropriate weight is by looking at your body mass index, or BMI. Your doctor can calculate your individual numbers and put together an exercise and eating plan to meet your needs.