A few months ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) added being overweight as a factor that increases severity of COVID-19 symptoms. This is a change, as up until now being obese was considered a high risk factor. Now, being overweight will increase your risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms.
The CDC considers an adult overweight if their Body Mass Index (BMI) is over 25 and obese when BMI is over 30. Body Mass Index is the mathematical relationship between your weight and height. You can find your BMI by going to your Weigh Ins page of your BTWB app. It's calculated for you every time we take your weight and measurements during our quarterly check-ins (be sure to book your New Year check-in now!)
The BMI is a controversial statistic and its critics argue that since it does not measure body fat it's not useful. I agree with this criticism. BMI is a diagnostic tool and can be useful for an initial screening, however it doesn't give an accurate measure of someone's physical body composition.
For example, let's look at my body composition. My weight has not changed since I started CrossFit in March 2010. I have decreased my body fat by nearly 15%. My BMI has not changed. According to the CDC I'm still overweight even though my body fat is 20%. My BMI hasn't changed because I'm the same weight and height.
CrossFitters and power athletes tend to weigh a bit more because of our increased muscle mass. Just look at my data, I've gained 26 pounds of lean muscle mass since starting CrossFit. That's why my weight hasn't changed.
The CDC does have a disclaimer on their website that reads:
BMI does not measure body fat directly, but research has shown that BMI is moderately correlated with more direct measures of body fat obtained from skinfold thickness measurements, bioelectrical impedance, underwater weighing, dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and other methods 1,2,3. Furthermore, BMI appears to be strongly correlated with various adverse health outcomes consistent with these more direct measures of body fatness
So what is considered overweight when we look at body fat percentage? After all, that is what we really want to know. It's actually not easy to find credible medical guidelines for body fat percentages.
One reason for this is that measuring body fat percentage is highly variable between methods (skin folds, physical measurements, electronic impedance, BODPOD, etc.) and that variance makes it challenging to nail down hard numbers. Here's one from the American Council on Exercise.
Here's another chart that is commonly referenced in the CrossFit ecosystem. This one breaks down ideal body fat based on age categories. This might prove more useful. Notice this chart shows ideal percentage and average percentage but doesn't identify what is overweight and what is obese. Perhaps we are meant to infer that anything above ideal is, in fact, not ideal and therefore overweight?
At TSCF our goal is to make you healthy, happy and harder to kill. Being lean and strong makes you harder to kill. It's not about being skinny, it's about being physically and mentally able to withstand the shitstorm of life.
Are you curious about your body fat percentage? Be sure to book a New Year Check in with me. We will take your measurements, calculate your body fat percentage, and help you come up with a plan to navigate your body fat percentage into your desired range.
Record your WOD on Beyond the Whiteboard.
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