# Fat or built?

Dear Alice,

Many of my friends tell me that I look like a football player, because I have a big body and my body swings side to side when I'm walking. I'm very happy that my friends say that about me even though I rarely play football and never have the fantasy of being a superstar quarterback. Maybe my friends just don't want to say the truth about me — that I am fat. Too fat for my age to be more specific. I am 5'6" tall and weigh 170 pounds. Maybe I do look strong like a football player for I usually work out once in a full moon, or maybe I am just plain old obese. Alice, can you solve this dilemma of mine, am I fat or just big and strong?

Sincerely,
The fat football player

Dear The fat football player,

A bit more information on how to calculate BMI: It's a ratio of weight to height, but online calculators are helpful tools. Simply plug in your height and weight, and the calculator will output your BMI. According to this index, a BMI of:

• 18.5 to 24.9 is considered to be in the range of healthy weight
• 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight
• 30 or higher indicates obesity
• 40 or higher indicates extreme obesity

List adapted from Body Composition Tests from the American Heart Association.

Keep in mind that the BMI may be misleading because someone who is muscular or athletic may have a higher BMI because muscle is more dense than fat.

Another way of calculating body fat distribution is to measure your waist circumference (in inches) in relation to your BMI. According to this measure, in general, a person assigned male at birth with a BMI of 25 or more would aim for a waist circumference of less than 40 inches, while individuals assigned female at birth with a BMI of 25 or more would aim for a waist circumference of less than 35 inches. This measure doesn't take into account the height of the person. You may find it helpful to talk about these different measures of body composition with your health care provider to learn more about your specific build. These assessments are general tools that can give you an idea of where your body may stand, but it may not tell the complete story. For example, an athlete with a lot of muscle mass may fall into the overweight category, even though they don't have as much body fat and have other positive indicators of health.