Weight management 101
A person who is overweight has too much body weight in relation to his or her height. A person who is obese has too high a percentage of body fat, regardless of his or her weight. The body mass index (BMI) is a tool for evaluating the health of your body weight by comparing weight and height. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight, while a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese. To check your BMI, use this calculator.
Weighing too much can increase your risk for many health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis (breakdown of the cartilage and bone in the joints), sleep apnea, stroke and some forms of cancer.
Losing just 5 percent of your body weight can help lower your risk of weight-related health problems, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). For instance, if you weigh 200 pounds, this means losing 10 pounds.
To lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn each day. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends accomplishing this with a combination of a healthy, well-balanced diet and increased physical activity.
Slow and steady weight loss of a 1/2 pound to 2 pounds per week is the healthiest way to lose weight. To help you stay motivated, try breaking down your long-term goal into a series of smaller, more manageable goals. For instance, aim to lose 5 pounds at a time, not 25 pounds all at once.
Start by filling up on high-fiber, low-calorie fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Switch over to low-fat meat, poultry and dairy products if you haven't already. Overall, choose a diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and moderate in fat, salt and sugar.
Try to eat well-balanced meals at regular times during the day. Be sure to eat only until you are full. If you're hungry for a second serving, consider taking seconds of vegetables or salads instead of higher-fat, higher-calorie foods such as meats or desserts. Stay away from high-calorie snack foods such as chips and sodas, and instead choose low-fat or fat-free yogurt, fruit or whole-grain crackers.
To lose weight, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says you should shoot for a total of 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. To maintain weight loss, you may need 60 to 90 minutes of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, daily.
You might try brisk walking (15 minutes per mile or 4 mph), biking, swimming or any other activity that you enjoy. It also helps to work exercise into your daily routine. Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking during your lunch break or working in the yard.
Several medications are available to treat obesity. Some promote weight loss by decreasing appetite or increasing the feeling of being full. Another type of medicine works by reducing the body's ability to absorb fat from food.
Prescription weight-loss medications should only be used by people whose weight puts them at risk for health problems. They are not intended for cosmetic weight loss.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, you may be a candidate for weight-loss medicine if your BMI is 30 or higher, or if your BMI is 27 or higher and you have medical problems related to your weight. Weight-loss medicines should always be combined with a healthful diet and regular exercise. Your doctor can help you decide whether weight-loss medication is right for you and tell you about possible side effects that may occur from the medications.
According to the NIDDK, surgery may be the best option for severely obese people who are unable to lose weight through diet and exercise or who have serious obesity-related health problems. Surgery promotes weight loss by restricting food intake and, in some cases, by interrupting the digestive process. You may be a candidate for weight-loss surgery if your BMI is 40 or more, or if your BMI is 35 or more and you have weight-related health problems, such as diabetes or heart disease, according to the NIDDK.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also has approved certain limited surgical procedures for people with a BMI of 30 or more and weight-related health issues.
To find out more about weight management, visit the Weight Management health topic center. You can also find out more at these websites:
- The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
- The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.