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How Are Your Clothes Fitting?

Let’s imagine the following patient:  Male, 5 feet 10 inches, 230 pounds.   The Body Mass Index is 33.  The definition of “Obesity” is a BMI 30 or greater so the hypothetical patient is considered “Obese”.  Now, let’s supposed the patient described is an NFL football running back.  Most likely, the guy will have a percentage body fat less than 12% which makes him quite a healthy person based on weight and body composition alone.  He is NOT at risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancer and any of the other obesity-related co-morbidities, as his body fat is well under control.  The chances are that if you saw this player dressed up after the game he will appear quite the “in shape” person.

Off the gridiron and to the general public:  I have many patients that tell me that despite the scale showing the same number, their clothes are fitting much better and they are actually losing clothes sizes.  How can this be when the scale is showing the same number?  Muscle is much denser than fat, thereby taking up “less space”.  When we lose fat but gain muscle, the overall weight may remain the same, but our bodies sort of shrink (in a good way).  The impact of this of course is that our current clothes will fit looser and/or the clothes size needed will go down.

The point: Body composition is a much more important health parameter than the BMI alone.  Knowing what percentage body fat you have is important, as this will help guide us as to what “healthy” weight we are striving for.  If you are not able to get a body scan in the near future, but you notice that your clothes are fitting much better, then clearly body fat is being lost.  Conversely, if you notice that your clothes keep getting tighter and tighter and you can no longer fit into some of the clothes in your closet, it is time to do something about that weight.

Enjoy Rod Stewart singing about wearing those clothes well!

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