Am I overweight?
Two key measures are used to determine if someone is overweight. These are the body mass index, or BMI, and waist circumference.
BMI relates weight to height. It gives an approximation of total body fat — and that's what increases the risk of obesity-related diseases. Overweight is defined as a BMI of 25 to 29.9; obesity is defined as a BMI equal to or more than 30.
But BMI may overestimate body fat or inaccurately estimate total body fat in muscular persons or those losing muscle. For example, older persons often have lost muscle mass and, so, have more fat for a given BMI than younger persons do. That's why waist measurement is often checked as well. Another reason is that too much body fat in the stomach area also increases disease risk. A waist measurement of more than 35 inches in women and more than 40 inches in men is considered high.
Should I Lose Weight?
For people who are considered obese (BMI greater than or equal to 30), or for those who are overweight (BMI of 25 to 29.9) and have two or more risk factors, the guidelines recommend weight loss. Even a small weight loss (just 10 percent of your current weight) will help to lower your risk of developing diseases associated with obesity. Patients who are overweight, do not have a high waist measurement, and have less than 2 risk factors may need to prevent further weight gain rather than lose weight. Talk to your doctor to see if you are at an increased risk and if you should lose weight.
Disease Risk* Relative to Normal
How Can I Lose Weight?
There is no magic formula for weight loss. You must eat fewer calories than you burn. Just how many calories you burn daily depends on factors such as your body size and how physically active you are.
If you have to lose weight, it's important to do so slowly. Aim for losing no more than one-half pound to 2 pounds a week. One pound equals 3,500 calories. So, to lose 1 pound a week, you need to eat 500 calories a day less or burn 500 calories a day more than you usually do.
Try starting with a weight loss of 10 percent of your current body weight over 6 months. This is the healthiest way to lose weight — and importantly — it offers the best chance of long term success.
The DASH eating plan is a healthy plan and can be made lower in calories for those who need to lose weight.
Losing weight and keeping it of requires a permanent change in behaviors.