Obesity Tests & Diagnosis

Overview

In general, you can tell whether you are obese or overweight based on your visual appearance. If you are overweight or obese, you will collect excess fatty tissue all over your body - around your abdomen, arms, legs, thighs, buttocks, or face.

Different people accumulate fat in different areas. Some people retain more fat in their abdominal areas and trunk, while other people distribute fat proportionately all over their bodies. You cannot control where your body stores fat, and if you do end up losing weight, you cannot control where your body burns fat.

You may have gained this weight slowly and over time, or you may have put on a significant amount of weight rapidly. You may be able to quickly identify how or why you became obese, or you may be completely unsure, especially if you are dieting, exercising, and living an active life. You may be able to catch your weight gain before it becomes a problem and before you become overweight. At first, you may not notice that you are gaining weight because your visual appearance is unchanged. You may realize that you are overweight or obese very suddenly, when your weight is already out of control.

Usually, a doctor will look at you and weigh you to determine whether you are obese. During a physical exam or when you visit the doctor's office, medical professionals will conduct an in depth examination to determine a more precise and well-rounded explanation for your condition. An understanding of the reasons why you are gaining weight will help you target your condition more effectively.

Physical Exam

It is recommended that people see the doctor at least once a year for a routine physical exam. During this office visit, doctors will conduct basic and in depth examinations to assess your general health.

When you visit your doctor, a medical professional will measure your height and weight and assess your general health by taking your blood pressure, temperature, and by listening to your lungs and heart. You may need to undergo a breathing test as well, especially if you mention that you are experiencing shortness of breath or if you have a history of asthma.

Your doctor will ask you detailed questions about your personal and family medical history. Make sure that you have a list of the medications that you are taking, and know whether certain conditions such as heart problems, stroke, high cholesterol, and hypertension run in your family. Also be prepared to tell the doctor whether obesity is a problem in your family.

Be prepared to answer questions about your diet and exercise routines. Based on your lifestyle, the doctor may be able to assess what is causing your obesity. The doctor may ask you to change your eating and exercise habits. Your physician may refer to dietician who can help you plan and proportion your meals.

Your doctor will ask you to turn for a checkup in several months and will continue to track your progress over months and years.

Blood Test

A blood test can reveal whether you are at risk of developing complications that result from your obesity. During a physical exam, a doctor will issue a blood test to check for many conditions including diabetes, high cholesterol, heart problems, and liver disorders. With a blood test, a doctor may be able to catch and treat certain conditions before they become a problem.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

The BMI is a scale that assesses whether you fall into a healthy weight range. According to this scale, anyone with a BMI above 25 is considered overweight. Anyone with a BMI above 30 is considered obese. If your BMI is above 40, then you are considered morbidly obese.

BMI is a rough approximation of obesity. People have different body types that cause weight to vary for a variety of reasons. You may have a high bone density, or you may gain weight because of your muscle mass. A person's physical frame can also vary: some people have large frames, and some people have small frames. Ideal body weight varies from person to person, and you will need to see a doctor to confirm whether you are overweight or obese.

Skin Fold Test

This type of test is used to approximate your body fat percentage. The test breaks down your essential body fat percentage and storage body fat percentage. The doctor will use one of two techniques: an X-ray technique or a body average density measurement. The X-ray method tends to be more accurate.

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