Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things that you can do for your health.  Being overweight or obese can lead to serious health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.  The good news is that even moderate weight loss – losing 5 to 10 percent of your body weight – can provide significant health benefits and prevent health problems associated with an unhealthy weight.   


Effects on Health

Being overweight or obese can put you at an increased risk for many chronic diseases, including:


·     Heart disease

·     Type 2 diabetes

·     High blood pressure

·     Endometrial, breast and colon cancer

·     Stroke

·     Liver and gallbladder disease

·     Sleep apnea and respiratory problems

·     Osteoarthritis

·     Gynecological problems (irregular menstrual periods, infertility)


Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention



Assessing Your Weight Status

The first step in the process to lose weight is to assess your current weight status.  There are a few ways for you to determine what a healthy weight for you would be.


BODY MASS INDEX

The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of an adult’s weight in relation to height. 

Underweight

Normal

Overweight

Obese

Below 18.5

18.5 – 24.9

25.0 – 29.9

30.0 and above


If you are interested in calculating your BMI:

·     There is an online tool at BMI Calculator. All you need to do is enter your height and weight and it will calculate your BMI.

·     Or to calculate your BMI using the formula, divide your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared and multiply it by 703.

·     For example: if you weigh 150 pounds and you are 5’5” (65 inches)
Calculation: [150 ÷ (65)2] x 703 = 24.9 or a normal BMI

Please keep in mind that BMI does not directly measure body fat. Some people, such as muscular athletes, may have a BMI in the overweight or obese category even though they do not have excess body fat.


WAIST CIRCUMFERENCE

The National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute also recommends looking at waist circumference to assess someone’s risk of developing a chronic disease relating to being overweight or obese. A high waist circumference is correlated with a higher risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease. If you are interested in knowing your waist circumference, here’s how to figure it out:

·     Using a tape measure, start at the top of the hip bone - bring the tape measure all the way around - level with your navel.

·     Make sure it's not too tight and that it is parallel with the floor.

·     Don't hold your breath while measuring yourself.


Normal

Increased Risk

Men: less than 40 inches

Men: greater than 40 inches

Women: less than 35 inches

Women: greater than 35 inches

 

Strategies for Success

If you are like most people, you have probably tried to lose weight before only to eventually gain it and even more back.  The keys to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight are:

·     Setting realistic and achievable goals

·     Making lifestyle changes such as eating in a healthier manner and becoming more physically active

·     Monitoring your progress by weighing yourself regularly and tracking your food intake and physical activity