Weight Loss - The Basics (cont.)

Determining Your Weight/Health Profile

Overweight and obesity have been associated with increased risk of developing such conditions as high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease.

For most people, determining the circumference of your waist and your body mass index (BMI) are reliable ways to estimate your body fat and the health risks associated with being overweight, overfat or obese. BMI is reliable for most people between 19 and 70 years of age except women who are pregnant or breast feeding, competitive athletes, body builders, and chronically ill patients. Generally, the higher your BMI, the higher your health risk, and the risk increases even further if your waist size is greater than 40 inches for men or 35 inches for women. There are other ways, besides BMI, to determine your body fat composition, and your doctor can tell you about them, but the method recommended here will help you decide if you are at risk. Use the chart to determine your BMI. Then, measure your waist size. Now, with your BMI and waist size determined, use the table below to determine your health risk relative to normal weight. To calculate your BMI, click here.

Risk of Associated Disease According to BMI and Waist Size

BMI Weight Rating Waist less than or equal to 40 in. (men) or 35 in. (women) - Disease Risk Waist greater than 40 in. (men) or 35 in. (women) - Disease Risk
18.5 or less Underweight N/A
18.5 - 24.9 Normal N/A
25.0 - 29.9 Overweight Increased High
30.0 - 34.9 Obese High Very High
35.0 - 39.9 Obese Very High Very High
40 or greater Extremely Obese Extremely High Extremely High

Several other factors, including your medical history, can increase your health risk.

See your doctor for advice about your overall health risk and the weight loss options that are best for you. Together, decide whether you should go on a moderate diet (1200 calories daily for women, 1400 calories daily for men), or whether other options might be appropriate.

Once you and your doctor have determined the type of diet that makes the most sense for you, you may want to choose a product or a plan to help you reach your goal. Consider: If your doctor prescribes a medication, ask about complications or side effects, and tell the doctor what other medications, including over-the-counter drug products, and dietary supplements you take and other conditions you're being treated for. After you start taking the medication, tell the doctor about changes you experience, if any.

  • If your treatment includes periodic monitoring, counseling or other activities that require your attendance, make sure the location is easy to get to and the appointment times are convenient.
  • Some methods for losing weight have more risks and complications than others. Ask for details about the side effects, complications or risks of any product or service that promotes weight loss and how to deal with problems should they occur.
  • Where appropriate to the program, ask about the credentials and training of the program staff.
  • Ask for an itemized price list for all the costs of the plan you're considering, including membership fees, fees for weekly visits, the costs of any diagnostic tests, costs for meal replacements, foods, nutritional supplements, or other products that are part of the weight loss program or plan.

(Source: Partnership for Healthy Weight Management, www.consumer.gov)


Last Editorial Review: 7/18/2006