The ideal weight for each of us should be synonymous with health and well-being, as it reflects a healthy and energetic body, which consequently increases our self-esteem, motivation and general outlook. But the desire to achieve what we consider our ideal weight is permanent, often leading to restrictive diets with harmful consequences to our health.

But is ideal weight the same thing as healthy weight?

Let’s begin by verifying how the ideal or healthy weight is calculated. To calculate the ideal or healthy weight, the calculation of the body mass index (BMI) is normally used, which classifies weight into four categories: underweight (BMI values below 18.5), normal weight (BMI between 18.5 and 24.9), overweight (BMI between 25 and 25.9) and obesity (BMI greater than 30). However, BMI only considers weight and age, while also taking into account height. It does not assess muscle mass, the proportion of bone and fat mass. For example, a person with high muscle mass and low-fat mass (such as an athlete or a body builder) will have a higher BMI than a person with high fat mass and low muscle mass. This is because muscle is four times denser than fat, which makes BMI an indicative calculation, proving that the assessment of ideal and healthy weight must be carried out taking into account other additional parameters.

These additional parameters are the measurement of the abdominal circumference, which is one of the parameters that should complement the BMI calculation. The abdominal circumference, when evaluated in isolation, does not define our health. But when associated with a complete evaluation, it is indicative of diseases such as arterial hypertension, diabetes, obesity and hypercholesterolemia. It is desirable to have an abdominal circumference of less than 94 cm for men and 80 cm for women. For a global health monitoring evaluation, the ideal and healthy weight should also take into account the assessment of lifestyle, which includes a family history of arterial hypertension, diabetes and premature cardiovascular disease, smoking habits, physical inactivity and evaluation of biochemical parameters (analyses). The assessment of biochemical parameters includes blood sugar level, total cholesterol (with a breakdown of “good” and “bad” cholesterol), assessment of thyroid function, among others.

It is important to remember that what we believe to be our perfect or ideal weight may not be realistic or healthy for our body.

Body weight is important, but it is not the only factor we should consider. Body weight is just one big and complex piece of the puzzle that makes up our overall health.

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