One in three adults and nearly 17% of kids and adolescents in the United States are obese. Over one in three adults are overweight, and the rate is rising. Being overweight or obese is a health risk as such individuals are likely to develop type 2 diabetes, heart disease, suffer stroke and suffer from other health conditions like fatty liver disease or kidney disease. So, it’s imperative to reduce weight, for those of us who tip the scale.
Healthy weight management is a long-time process, involving lifestyle changes to maintain a healthy body weight based on an individual’s age, sex and height. It involves adopting a healthy diet plan and regular physical activity to lose weight as well as to maintain healthy weight in the long term.
Most Americans are unsure about what should be their body weight. In other words – What is healthy weight? Almost all of us worry “How do I achieve a healthy body weight (and keep it)? Researchers have dwelt on the issue of healthy weight & weight management, and published their findings in reputed journals.
Most researchers agree that there is no universal healthy weight. Every individual will have a different ideal weight, which is estimated based on their height, age and sex. Two simple tools can be used to calculate healthy weight.
- Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Measure of your Waist
- Body Mass Index (BMI)
The right weight for a person is calculated on his/her BMI.
Formula to estimate BMI: Multiply your weight in pounds by 703 and divide it by your height (in inches) squared.
So, for example, if you weigh 185 pounds and are 5-foot-5 (65 inches), then your BMI score is:
185 x 703 = 130,055
65 x 65 = 4,225
130,055 ÷ 4,225 = 30.78 (30.8 approximately)
Adult obesity is defined by a BMI of 30 or above.
The other ranges are:
Underweight = under 18.5
Normal weight = 18.5 to 24.9
Overweight = 25.0 to 29.9
BMI only gives a general idea and is not an exact measure of your body fat. It’s not a diagnosis of your weight problem. For example, brawny people may have a high BMI, but they are not obese. Similarly, measure of BMI in older people (with less muscles) may not predict them as overweight/obese.
Note: In case you feel that you are obese or want to know what your healthy weight should be, then it’s best to consult your doctor.
- Measure your Waistline
The second way to estimate healthy weight is a measure of your waistline. The fat around the tummy may have serious health implication like Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. But the measure of your waist will not tell exactly whether you’re overweight or not. It’s just a screening tool, like the BMI.
General guidelines of waistline for men and women:
- Man’s waist size should not be over 40 inches
- Non-pregnant women’s waist should not be over 35 inches.
Getting the Right Weight?
A person’s weight depends on several factors, including genes and hormones. But usually an obese person has been found to be eating more calories than using them. Human body typically stores the extra calories as fats for future use.
For long-lasting result, any weight loss and weight management programme must include two things:
- Eating right. Avoid fast food, sodas and processed foods all calories, which add up to your body weight.
- More Movement. Include exercise, running or move around more often into your lifestyle to burn calories.
Other things that may be suggested by your doctor are:
- Behavioural changes. Control availability of unhealthy food in your home and office environment.
- Medicines. Weight-loss medications or supplements work by making you feel less hungry or full sooner or by preventing absorption of fat.
- Weight-loss surgery. Bariatric surgery causes weight loss by reducing the capacity of stomach to hold food.
Long-term Lifestyle Changes
Fad diets promise great results in short time without making much changes to your existing diet or exercise habits. They sound too good to be true, and they probably are. The trick is to think realistically.
Losing 1 to 2 pounds in a week is realistic. So, keep it “slow & steady” for sustained weight loss.
- Exercise portion control
- Load up with good protein and lots of fibre
- Eat more fruits & vegetables
- Limit salt, sugar & fat intake
Consult your health practitioner to know how much calories you need to consume to lose weight. Men can consume up to 1,800 calories, while women need only 1500 calories on a day. To lose 1-2 pounds per week, you need to reduce 500 to 1,000 calories per day.
- Try to incorporate 2.5 hours of exercise every week, in some form (like aerobics or brisk walking).
- Exercise more to lose weight.
- Do some strength exercises at least twice per week.
- Increase daily movement habits to burn extra calories (park car away from entrance, walk up to your colleagues’ desk instead of pinging or take a walk around the neighbourhood).
A healthy lifestyle also includes a positive attitude and self-motivation – like better health, more energy & increased self-esteem – increase the success of lifelong weight management.
Weight Management is a lifestyle choice
Healthy weight comes from a healthy life, which is more about making better lifestyle choices. And weight management falls in place easily. Health and wellness are natural benefits of maintaining a healthy weight. Additionally, healthy eating habits & regular exercises helps you to connect with family and friends. Pursuit of your health goal takes you closer to your family and others with similar goal. Enrol into a fitness centre or join a yoga class or play with your children (they will be elated). It all adds up to your wellness.