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Healthy Weight Overview

Choose a healthy weight for life! This is the U.S. Surgeon General’s healthy weight advice for consumers. Unfortunately, for many people, choosing is not as easy as it sounds. Although most Americans seem to realize they need to maintain a healthy weight, an estimated 66% of adults are overweight or obese (National Center for Health Statistics). Many of these people have tried various weight-loss products or programs, some successfully, but most without long-term benefits. Obviously, many factors influence our ability to choose a healthy weight.

At the simplest level, body weight is determined by energy balance. Energy (in the form of calories) is acquired through eating and drinking. Energy is burned through the body’s metabolic processes and physical activity. As most of us know, if you consume a higher number of calories (energy in) than the number of calories you use (energy out), you will gain weight. If, on the other hand, you burn more calories than you consume, a negative energy balance will be created and you will lose weight. Calories in must equal calories out to maintain weight.

Note: Only a modest reduction in calories is needed to achieve a healthy weight loss. Consuming too few calories can actually slow down your metabolism and your weight loss. It is often recommended that women not go below 1200 calories per day and men not go below 1800 calories per day for successful weight loss.

On a more complex level, a person’s weight is also affected by cultural, environmental, and social factors that are not as easy to measure. However, positive changes can be made at any time regardless of your past experiences or behaviors. It is never too late to make healthy choices.

Avoiding the Weight Loss Dilemma

One of the most basic things you can do is to stop gaining weight. After all, It’s not about what you lose. It’s about what you gain. Achieving healthy life-long diet and exercise habits is the key to success! Download this poster, print it, and attach it to your refrigerator door as a reminder to learn to live healthier with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans:

  • Learn to make smart choices from every food group.
  • Get the most nutrition out of your calories.
  • Find the right balance between food and physical activity.

What is a healthy weight for me?

Determining what weight is healthy for you should be determined by health standards, not by the media and latest trends. You probably already have some idea about where you are; that is, whether you are overweight, underweight, or somewhere in between, without doing any measurements or calculations. You also know how you feel (such as your energy level) and whether or not your weight is contributing to any physical problems you may have, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol.

A good starting point is to calculate your BMI and see where you fall on the charts provided. If you happen to realize that you need some help with attaining a healthy weight, be it weight loss, weight gain, or weight maintenance,a good place to start is with your healthcare provider. He/she will be able to map out safe approaches for you based on your medical history and personal goals.

No matter your weight, the following suggestions from the American Public Health Association can lead to improvements in health:

  • Follow the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for healthy eating.
  • Eat only when hungry.
  • Be physically active by performing 60 minutes of moderate physical activity four to five days a week.
  • Reduce the amount of time spent in front of the television, computer or playing video games.
  • Plan family and school activities that provide everyone with exercise and enjoyment.

How to Choose a Healthy Weight

The following strategies may help you as you choose a healthy weight:

  • Recognize the health benefits of maintaining a healthy weight. (Remember that the number on the scale does not tell the whole story. The scale not only reflects fat, but also muscle, bone, water, etc. The goal is to have less body fat, especially around the midsection.)
  • Make a commitment and let your family and friends know about your decision.
  • Set realistic goals. A healthy weight loss is about one to two pounds per week.
  • Identify barriers that may interfere with your decision and determine ways to work around them.
  • Take advantage of all the interactive tools and motivational aids that are available.
  • Locate resources in your area. Many hospitals, school districts, and health departments run programs to encourage people to get to or maintain a healthy weight.
  • Start slowly, work up gradually. Remember, this is a life plan.
  • Build a support system.
  • Find a buddy to exercise with at work, home, or school.
  • Share your success with others.

Many resources are available to help you make the necessary lifestyle changes to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.For optimum success, remind yourself that when it comes to Healthy Weight – it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle.

For more information:

Go to the Healthy Weight Center health topic.