Setting Weight Loss
for Healthy Weight Management
There are lots of reasons for people who are
overweight or obese to lose weight. To be healthier. To look better. To feel
better. To have more energy.
No matter what the reason, successful weight
loss and healthy weight management depend on sensible goals and expectations.
If you set sensible goals for yourself, chances are you'll be more likely to
meet them and have a better chance of keeping the weight off. In fact, losing
even five to 10 percent of your weight is the kind of goal that can help
improve your health.
Most overweight people should lose weight
gradually. For safe and healthy weight loss, try not to exceed a rate of two
pounds per week. Sometimes, people with serious health problems associated with
obesity may have legitimate reasons for losing weight rapidly. If so, a
physician's supervision is required.
What you weigh is the result of several
- how much and what kinds of food you
- whether your lifestyle includes
regular physical activity
- whether you use food to respond to
stress and other situations in your life
- your physiologic and genetic
- your age and health status.
Successful weight loss and weight management
should address all of these factors. And that's the reason to ignore products
and programs that promise quick and easy results, or that promise permanent
results without permanent changes in your lifestyle. Any ad that says you can
lose weight without lowering the calories you take in and/or increasing your
physical activity is selling fantasy and false hope. In fact, some people would
call it fraud. Furthermore, the use of some products may not be safe.
Many people who are overweight or obese have
decided not to diet per se, but to concentrate on engaging in regular physical
activity and maintaining healthy eating habits in accordance with the Dietary
Guidelines for Americans, emphasizing lowered fat consumption, and an increase
in vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Others who try to diet
report needing help to achieve their weight management goals.
Fad diets that ignore the principles of the
Dietary Guidelines may result in short term weight loss, but may do so at the
risk of your health. How you go about managing your weight has a lot
to do with your long-term success. Unless your health is seriously at risk due
to complications from being overweight or obese, gradual weight loss should be
your rule and your goal.
Here's how to do it:
- Check with your doctor. Make sure
that your health status allows lowering your caloric intake and increasing your
- Follow a calorie-reduced, but
balanced diet that provides for as little as one or two pounds of weight loss a
week. Be sure to include at least five servings a day of fruits and vegetables,
along with whole grains, lean meat and low fat dairy products. It may not
produce headlines, but it can reduce waistlines. It's not "miracle" science
just common sense. Most important, it's prudent and healthy.
- Make time in your day for some form
of physical activity. Start by taking the stairs at work, walking up or down an
escalator, parking at the far end of a lot instead of cruising around for the
closest spot. Then, assuming your physician gives the okay, gradually add some
form of regular physical activity that you enjoy. Walking is an excellent form
of physical activity that almost everyone can do.
- Consider the benefits of moderate
weight loss. There's scientific evidence that losing five to 10 percent of your
weight and keeping it off can benefit your health lower your blood
pressure, for example. If you are 5 feet 6 inches tall and weigh 180 pounds,
and your goal weight is 150, losing five to 10 percent (nine to 18 pounds) is
beneficial. When it comes to successful weight loss and weight management,
steady and slow can be the way to go.
For many people who are overweight or obese,
long-term and healthy weight management generally requires
sensible goals and a commitment to make realistic changes in their lifestyle
and improve their health. A lifestyle based on healthy eating and regular
physical activity can be a real lifesaver.
Determining Your Weight/Health Profile
Overweight and obesity have been associated
with increased risk of developing such conditions as high blood pressure, Type
2 diabetes and coronary artery disease.
For most people, determining the
circumference of your waist and your body mass index (BMI) are reliable ways to estimate
your body fat and the health risks associated with being overweight, overfat or
obese. BMI is reliable for most people between 19 and 70 years of age except
women who are pregnant or breast feeding, competitive athletes, body builders,
and chronically ill patients. Generally, the higher your BMI, the higher your
health risk, and the risk increases even further if your waist size is greater
than 40 inches for men or 35 inches for women. There are other ways, besides
BMI, to determine your body fat composition, and your doctor can tell you about
them, but the method recommended here will help you decide if you are at risk.
Use the chart to determine
your BMI. Then, measure your waist size. Now, with your BMI and waist size
determined, use the table below to determine your health risk relative to
Risk of Associated Disease According to BMI and
|Waist less than or equal
40 in. (men) or
40 in. (men) or
Several other factors, including your
medical history, can increase your health risk.
See your doctor for advice about your
overall health risk and the weight loss options that are best for you.
Together, decide whether you should go on a moderate diet (1200 calories daily
for women, 1400 calories daily for men), or whether other options might be
Once you and your doctor have determined the
type of diet that makes the most sense for you, you may want to choose a
product or a plan to help you reach your goal. Consider: b If your doctor
prescribes a medication, ask about complications or side effects, and tell the
doctor what other medications, including over-the-counter drug products, and
dietary supplements you take and other conditions you're being treated for.
After you start taking the medication, tell the doctor about changes you
experience, if any.
- If your treatment includes periodic
monitoring, counseling or other activities that require your attendance, make
sure the location is easy to get to and the appointment times are convenient.
- Some methods for losing weight have
more risks and complications than others. Ask for details about the side
effects, complications or risks of any product or service that promotes weight
loss and how to deal with problems should they occur.
- Where appropriate to the program,
ask about the credentials and training of the program staff.
- Ask for an itemized price list for
all the costs of the plan you're considering, including membership fees, fees
for weekly visits, the costs of any diagnostic tests, costs for meal
replacements, foods, nutritional supplements, or other products that are part
of the weight loss program or plan.
Where To Get More Help
The Partnership for Healthy Weight
Management is a coalition of representatives from science, academia, the health
care professions, government, commercial enterprises, and organizations whose
mission is to promote sound guidance on strategies for achieving and
maintaining a healthy weight.
Partners with information that can help you
with issues about overweight and obesity or design your own healthy weight
management plan are:
Get Nutrition Fact Sheets at:
Consumer Education Team
216 West Jackson
Chicago, IL 60606
(Send self addressed stamped envelope), Call
800-877-1600, ext. 5000 for other publications or 800-366-1655 for recorded
1250 24th Street, NW, Suite 300
American Society of Bariatric Physicians
5600 S. Quebec, Ste. 109-A
Englewood, CO 80111 USA
(303) 779-4833, (303) 770-2526
Fax: (303) 779-4834
on Size and Weight Discrimination
PO Box 305
Mt. Marion, NY
(Send self-addressed stamped envelope)
Department of Nutrition
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Birmingham, AL 35294
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue,
Washington, DC 20580
Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Bethesda, MD 20892
North American Association for the Study of
8630 Fenton Street
Silver Spring, MD 20910
For access to helpful information from our
commercial partners, write: Federal Trade Commission
Consumer and Business
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580