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Obesity and Motherhood

  • By: Wendy Ellen
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

The most commonly accepted method to calculate obesity is the calculation of the body mass index (BMI), a measure of body fat based on height and weight: weight in pounds divided by height in feet, squared. This calculation replaced the American Metropolitan Life Insurance Company's height and weight charts expressed for small, medium, and large body frames.

The BMI as a calculation, and the widely accepted guidelines that accompany it, come with considerable controversy. For example, in the 1990s, the guidelines used to determine overweight and obese individuals was adjusted downward to include those with a BMI of 25–26; no adjustment is made for lean muscle mass. Obesity is often defined as being 20 percent over the midpoint of one's accepted weight range (using the height ...

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