From the US CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a number calculated from a person's weight and height. BMI provides a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people and is used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems.
BMI is not an infallible guide, especially for musculars types like body-builders, or for the elderly who might have comparatively little muscle to body mass. For most of us looking to lose weight and get healthy, though, it is a fairly good indicator. So in addition to the scales, try tracking your BMI from time to time. (Just click here to calculate your BMI.)
When I ran my recent weight through the calculator linked above, I was thrilled to see that I was finally in the 'healthy' range for the first times in over a decade, at least! (Of course, whoever made that chart hasn't seen my thighs and tummy, but at least I am not in the danger zone that I was at 222 lbs, and 5'1".)
However, an even better, more accurate way to measure dangerous overweight is the waist-to-hip ratio — and all it requires is a measuring tape, and maybe a calculator!
Take your waist measurement, and divide it by your hip measurement. The classic 36-24-36 hourglass figure would work out as 24 divided by 36, or .67.
For women, a healthy waist-to-hip ratio would be no more than 0.8.
For men, a healthy waist-to-hip ratio is 0.95.
Anything higher means that too much fat is stored in the middle of the body, and that is the kind of fat associated with heart disease, diabetes, and other health hazards. That's because abdominal fat causes changes in hormone levels and inflammation, which in turn leads to clogged arteries and a host of other problems.
So, in addition to your scales, take stock with a tape measure and a calculator. Chart them out. It is so gratifying to watch all the numbers move down to a healthy (and attractive) range!