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Measuring a person's body fat percentage can be difficult, therefore, other methods are relied on to diagnose obesity. Two widely used methods are weight-for-height tables and body mass index (BMI). While both measurements have their limitations, they are reasonable indicators that someone may have a weight problem. The calculations are easy, and no special equipment is required.

Most people are familiar with weight-for-height tables. Doctors and nurses (and many others) have used these tables for decades to determine if someone is overweight. The tables usually have a range of acceptable weights for a person of a given height.
One small problem with using weight-for-height tables is that doctors disagree over which is the best table to use. Several versions are available. Many have different weight ranges, and some tables account for a person's frame size, age and sex, while other tables do not.

A grave limitation of all weight-for-height tables is that they do not distinguish between excess fat and muscle. A very muscular person may appear obese, according to the tables, when he or she in fact is not.

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