- Weight management facts
- How can people use their BMI to evaluate their bodies?
- How should people evaluate their weight?
- What works for weight management?
- How do people successfully keep weight off?
- What are the benefits of weight loss?
- What are problems associated with excessive thinness (underweight)?
Weight management facts
- A lifestyle that combines sensible eating with regular physical activity is the key to good health.
- To be at their best, adults need to avoid gaining excess weight, many need to lose weight, and some are underweight.
- Being overweight or obese increases a person's risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, certain types of cancer, arthritis, and breathing problems.
- A healthy weight is a major factor for a long, healthy life.
How can people use their BMI to evaluate their bodies?
When it comes to adults and children, different methods are used to find out if weight is about right for height. Adults should learn their BMI (click here for calculations). Not all adults who have a BMI in the range labeled "healthy" are at their most healthy weight.
- Some may have lots of fat and little muscle.
- A BMI above the healthy range is less healthy for most people; but it may be fine if someone has lots of muscle, a large body frame, and little fat.
- The further one's BMI is above the healthy range, the higher one's weight-related risk. If a person's BMI is above the healthy range, he or she may benefit from weight loss, especially if there are other health risk factors.
- BMIs slightly below the healthy range may still be healthy unless they result from illness.
There is no single perfect body size for children. However, many children in the United States are overweight. If someone has concerns about his or her child's body size, talk with a health-care professional.
Keep track of one's weight and waist measurement, and take action if either of them increases. If someone's BMI is greater than 25, at least try to avoid further weight gain. If middle-aged or elderly and the waist measurement increases, one is probably gaining fat and losing muscle. If so, take steps to eat less and become more active.
How should people evaluate their weight?
- Weigh oneself and have one's height measured. Find one's BMI category. The higher the BMI category, the greater the risk for health problems.
- Measure around the waist while standing, just about the hip bones. If it is greater than 35 inches for women or 40 inches for men, there is probably excess abdominal fat. This excess fat may place one at greater risk of health problems, even if the BMI is about right.
Learn about other risk factors
The more of these risk factors someone has, the more he or she is likely to benefit from weight loss if overweight or obese.
- Is there a personal or family history of heart disease?
- Is the individual a male older than 45 years or a postmenopausal female?
- Does the person smoke cigarettes?
- Does that individual have a sedentary lifestyle?
- Has a doctor told the person that he or she has high blood pressure, abnormal blood lipids (high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides), or diabetes?
Genes affect one's tendency to gain weight. A tendency to gain weight is increased when food is plentiful and when using equipment and vehicles to save time and energy. Plentiful food and labor-saving devices can make it very difficult to avoid weight gain, but it is possible to manage one's weight through food and physical activity choices.
What works for weight management?
While a number of diet plans may work for taking off extra weight, these plans will only be successful if long-term changes are made to one's eating habits. Therefore, rather than following a restrictive diet that will be impossible or difficult to maintain forever, it is better to revise one's eating habits so that it's possible to not only lose weight but also maintain a healthy weight. To make it easier to manage one's weight, it's important to make long-term changes in eating behavior and physical activity. Here are some tips to accomplish this:
- Build a healthy base and make sensible choices.
- Choose a healthful assortment of food that include vegetables, fruits, grains (especially whole grains), skim milk, and fish, lean meat, poultry, or beans.
- Choose foods that are low in fat and added sugars most of the time.
- Eating mainly vegetables, fruits, and grains helps one feel full, achieve good health, and manage one's weight.
- Whatever the food, eat a sensible portion size.
- Try to be more active throughout the day.
- To maintain a healthy weight after weight loss, it helps for adults to do at least 45 minutes of moderate physical activity daily (at least 60 minutes daily for children).
- Over time, even a small decrease in calories eaten and a small increase in physical activity can prevent weight gain or help with weight loss.
- Don't give up after making a poor dietary choice and allow this to destroy a healthy eating plan. Accept the mistake and continue to make good choices as often as possible.
How do people successfully keep weight off?
Keeping weight off requires long-term changes. No matter how successful the diet, the weight will return if someone returns to his or her pre-diet eating habits. As mentioned above, a "no-diet" approach to healthy eating based on modification of dietary habits has a better chance of success than following a highly restrictive diet for a limited time.
What are the benefits of weight loss?
Being overweight is associated with a number of health risks and obesity (typically defined as having a body mass index, or BMI, over 30) is even more dangerous. Some of the health risks associated with overweight and obesity include the following:
- Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance: Insulin resistance means that the pancreas has to produce increasing amount of insulin to allow glucose to enter cells and be used for fuel. Because fat cells are more resistant to insulin than muscle cells, people who are overweight tend to produce more insulin to keep blood glucose levels stable. Once the pancreas can no longer keep up with this increasing demand, blood glucose levels rise, leading to type 2 diabetes.
- Cancers: Obesity has been associated with an increased risk of developing certain cancers, including colon cancer, prostate cancer, endometrial cancer (cancer of the uterine lining), gallbladder cancer, and breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
- Heart attack and stroke
- Sleep apnea and other breathing problems, including an increased susceptibility to respiratory infection and asthma
- Heart failure
- Stillbirth and hypertension of pregnancy
- Stress incontinence
- Increased risk of postsurgical infection and other complications of surgery
- Varicose veins
- Reflux esophagitis
Weight reduction and maintenance of a normal body weight can diminish many of these risks.
What are problems associated with excessive thinness (underweight)?
Being too thin (underweight, often defined as having a BMI of less than 18.5) can occur with anorexia nervosa, with other eating disorders, or loss of appetite. Many chronic medical conditions, cancers, and infections can also result in weight loss to the point of being underweight. Being underweight is linked to menstrual irregularity (which can lead to infertility) and osteoporosis in women, and greater risk of early death in both women and men.
Many people -- especially women -- are concerned about body weight, even when their weight is actually normal. Excessive concern about weight may cause or lead to unhealthy behaviors such as excessive exercise, self-induced vomiting, and the abuse of laxatives or other medications. These practices may only worsen the concern about weight.
Unexplained weight loss is sometimes an early clue to a health problem. If someone experiences sudden weight loss for unknown reasons when not attempting to reduce or lose weight, he or she should visit a doctor to determine if a medical condition is responsible for the weight loss.
Medical supervision is important when trying to regain a significant amount of weight. Just as weight loss involves taking in fewer calories than one burns through daily activities, weight gain involves the consumption of more calories than are needed to maintain body functions and activities. Even those trying to take in extra calories should pay attention to the nutritional content of their foods and limit high-fat foods, refined sugars, and other poor nutritional choices. Some experts also recommend weight training or other exercises to promote muscle development while attempting to gain weight. If someone needs to gain weight, a doctor can help decide on an eating and exercise plan to best help him or her accomplish this.
For those who are severely underweight and attempting to regain weight, a condition known as refeeding syndrome may occur as a complication of attempts to regain weight too rapidly. This syndrome is characterized by a number of metabolic abnormalities and imbalances in electrolyte levels that may result in serious or even fatal complications. Refeeding syndrome occurs most often in people who are extremely underweight, such as those suffering from severe anorexia nervosa (those with less than 75% of a normal body weight). Sometimes severe underweight requires hospitalization during the initial weight gain phase in order to monitor the individual's overall nutritional and metabolic status.
Top Weight Management Related Articles
Belly Fat QuizDid you know there is a medical term for belly fat? Find out what it is and learn why getting rid of belly fat may be the best thing for your health. Take the Belly Fat Quiz.
CancerCancer is a disease caused by an abnormal growth of cells, also called malignancy. It is a group of 100 different diseases, and is not contagious. Cancer can be treated through chemotherapy, a treatment of drugs that destroy cancer cells.
Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. The two types of diabetes are referred to as type 1 (insulin dependent) and type 2 (non-insulin dependent). Symptoms of diabetes include increased urine output, thirst, hunger, and fatigue. Treatment of diabetes depends on the type.
Fat-Fighting FoodsLearn about fat-fighting foods such as grapefruit, hot peppers, vinegar, and more. Discover the benefits along with surprising facts about how they may fight fat.
Portion Distortion QuizAre your portions deceiving you? Take the Food Portion Distortion Quiz to find out how and why gigantic portions trick you into eating more than reasonable amounts of food!
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a disease in which pressure within the arteries of the body is elevated. About 75 million people in the US have hypertension (1 in 3 adults), and only half of them are able to manage it. Many people do not know that they have high blood pressure because it often has no has no warning signs or symptoms.
Systolic and diastolic are the two readings in which blood pressure is measured. The American College of Cardiology released new guidelines for high blood pressure in 2017. The guidelines now state that blood normal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg. If either one of those numbers is higher, you have high blood pressure.
The American Academy of Cardiology defines high blood pressure slightly differently. The AAC considers 130/80 mm Hg. or greater (either number) stage 1 hypertension. Stage 2 hypertension is considered 140/90 mm Hg. or greater.
If you have high blood pressure you are at risk of developing life threatening diseases like stroke and heart attack.
REFERENCE: CDC. High Blood Pressure. Updated: Nov 13, 2017.
25 Hormone Imbalance Symptoms and SignsHormone imbalance involves changes in estrogen, progesterone, and other hormone levels. Hormonal imbalance in women may cause symptoms like weight gain, hot flashes, fatigue, and acne. Hormonal changes happen in menopause and at other times. Women with hormone imbalances can seek treatment from medications like triptans and SSRIs.
Kidney Stone SlideshowWhat causes kidney stones? Where is kidney stone pain located on your body? Learn the symptoms and signs of kidney stone pain. Explore kidney stone treatment and how to prevent kidney stones.
Lap Band SurgeryLap band (gastric banding) surgery, also referred to as laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB) is a surgical procedure in which an adjustable belt is placed around the upper portion of the stomach. Candidates for lap band surgery are generally individuals with a body mass index over 40 kg/m2, or are more than 45 kilograms over their ideal body weight. Side effects, risks, and complications from lap band surgery should be discussed with a surgeon or physician prior to the operation.
Lose Weight No DietingGet surprising weight loss tips to help you slim down without starving or following a complicated diet. Lose weight without dieting.
Macular DegenerationAge-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease that gradually destroys the central vision. In people over 60, AMD is a leading cause of vision loss. Wet AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels behind the retina start to grow under the macula, leaking blood and fluid and causing rapid vision loss. In dry AMD, light-sensitive cells slowly break down in the macula, resulting in gradual vision loss. Pain is not associated with either form of AMD.
Normal Blood Sugar Levels In Adults with Diabetes
People with diabetes can manage and prevent low or high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia) by keeping a log of your blood sugar levels when you are eating and fasting and eat foods that are high in carbohydrates and sugar, for example, buttered potatoes, candy, sugary desserts, and fatty foods.
Blood tests, for example, the hemoglobin A1c test (A1c test) and urinalysis can diagnose the type of diabetes the person has. Diabetes during pregnancy, called gestational diabetes, should be managed by you and your OB/GYN or another healthcare professional.
Extremely high levels of blood glucose in the blood can be dangerous and life threatening if you have type 1, type 2, or gestational diabetes.
If you or someone that you are with has extremely high blood glucose levels, call 911 or go to your nearest Urgent Care or Emergency Department immediately.
To prevent and manage high blood glucose levels in people with diabetes keep a log of your blood sugar levels, eat foods that are high in carbohydrates sugar, for example, buttered potatoes, candy, sugary deserts, and fatty foods that you can share with your doctor and other healthcare professionals.
Obesity and OverweightGet the facts on obesity and being overweight, including the health risks, causes, reviews of weight-loss diet plans, BMI chart, symptoms, causes, surgical and nonsurgical treatments, and medications.
Staph (Staphylococcus) InfectionStaphylococcus or staph is a group of bacteria that can cause a multitude of diseases. Staph infections can cause illness directly by infection or indirectly by the toxins they produce. Symptoms and signs of a staph infection include redness, swelling, pain, and drainage of pus. Minor skin infections are treated with an antibiotic ointment, while more serious infections are treated with intravenous antibiotics.
StrokeA stroke is an interruption of the blood supply to part of the brain caused by either a blood clot (ischemic) or bleeding (hemorrhagic). Symptoms of a stroke may include weakness, numbness, double vision or vision loss, confusion, vertigo, difficulty speaking, or understanding speech. A physical exam, imaging tests, neurological exam, and blood tests may be used to diagnose a stroke. Treatment may include administration of clot-busting drugs, supportive care, and in some instances, neurosurgery. The risk of stroke can be reduced by controlling high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and stopping smoking.
Superfoods QuizTake our Superfoods Quiz! Get to know how unprocessed, raw, organic foods and healthy drinks are rich in nutrients and dietary benefits.
Triglycerides (Tests and Lowering Your Triglyceride Levels)Triglycerides are a common form of fat that we digest. Triglycerides are the main ingredient in animal fats and vegetable oils. Elevated levels of triglycerides are a risk factor for heart disease, heart attack, stroke, fatty liver disease, and pancreatitis. Elevated levels of triglycerides are also associated with diseases like diabetes, kidney disease, and medications (for example, diuretics, birth control pills, and beta blockers). Dietary changes, and medication if necessary can help lower triglyceride blood levels.