Body Mass Index

The benefits of maintaining a healthy weight go far beyond improved energy and smaller clothing sizes. By losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight, you are also likely to enjoy these quality-of-life factors too.

  • Fewer joint and muscle pains
  • Greater ability to join in desired activities
  • Better regulation of bodily fluids and blood pressure
  • Reduced burden on your heart and circulatory system
  • Better sleep patterns
  • More effective metabolism of sugars and carbohydrates
  • Reduced risk for heart disease and certain cancers

Your BMI is a good indicator of whether you’re at a healthy or unhealthy weight. Find your BMI and what it means with our handy BMI Calculator.

  • BMI stands for Body Mass Index This is a numerical value of your weight in relation to your height. BMIs are good indicators of healthy or unhealthy weights for adult men and women, regardless of body frame size. A BMI of less than 25 indicates a healthy weight. A BMI of less than 18.5 is considered underweight. A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight. A BMI of 30 or higher indicates obesity.
  • Excess weight increases the heart’s work. It also raises blood pressure and blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and lowers HDL (good) cholesterol levels. It can make diabetes more likely to develop, too. Losing as few as 10 pounds can lower your heart disease risk.
  • To calculate your BMI:
    • Type your height and weight into the calculator.
    • Select a status option if you’re under 20 years old, highly trained/athletic, pregnant or breastfeeding. If one of these situations applies to you, the BMI may not be the best method of assessing your risk from overweight or obesity.

Losing Weight

Reduce calories in and increase calories out.

Losing weight means changing the balance of calories in to calories out. If we eat more calories than we need, we gain weight. If we eat fewer calories than we use, we lose weight.

So start with good information: you need to know how many calories you should eat each day for your individual level of activity, and then you’ll need to find ways to stay within your limits. To lose weight, you must use up more calories than you take in. One pound equals 3,500 calories.  To successfully and healthfully lose weight—and keep it off—most people need to subtract about 500 calories per day from their diet to lose about 1 pound per week.

Increase calories burned

Regular physical activity has so many proven benefits, such as to help control weight and blood pressure and decrease the risk for heart disease and stroke. All healthy adults (ages 18 to 64) should get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (e.g., brisk walking) every week or 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity (e.g., jogging, running) every week.   Additionally, you need on 2 or more days a week muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest shoulders, and arms). Besides helping you lose weight, it also helps reduce your abdominal fat and preserve muscle during weight loss.

The amount of physical activity any individual person needs for weight loss can vary, but you will need to get both regular physical activity and a healthy eating plan to lose weight and keep it off.   A good plan may include 30 to 60  minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity, like brisk walking, done nearly every day. Find something you can do and find ways to enjoy it. Take a brisk walk  or a jog with a friend or your dog. Enjoy a video that gets you moving.

Obesity

Obesity (a body mass index of 30 or higher)

The term obesity is used to describe the health condition of anyone significantly above his or her ideal healthy weight. Don’t be discouraged by the term. It simply means you are 20% or more above your ideal weight and you are not alone. Between 60 and 70% of Americans are either overweight or obese. Being obese puts you at a higher risk for health problems such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and more.

Obesity Statistics

  • About 12 million (16.9%) of U.S. children ages 2 to 19 are obese.
  • Nearly one in three (31.7%) U.S. children (23,500,000) ages 2 to 19 are overweight or obese.
  • Over one-third (33.7%) of U.S. adults are obese (nearly 75 million adults).

Your healthiest weight

Everyone needs a goal and we need positive reasons to achieve those goals. Even taking off a few pounds can provide you with cardiovascular benefits, so every step in the right direction is a step toward healthier living. Consider these reasons to work toward maintaining a healthy weight.

When your weight is in a healthy range:

  • Your body more effectively circulates blood
  • Your fluid levels are more easily managed
  • You are less likely to develop diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers and sleep apnea.

Obesity is defined simply as too much body fat. Your body is made up of water, fat, protein, carbohydrate and various vitamins and minerals. If you have too much fat — especially around your waist — you’re at higher risk for health problems, including high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

  • raises blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • lowers HDL “good” cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is linked with lower heart disease and stroke risk, so reducing it tends to raise the risk.
  • raises blood pressure levels.
  • can induce diabetes. In some people, diabetes makes these other risk factors much worse. The danger of heart attack is especially high for these people.

Even when there are no adverse effects on the known risk factors, obesity by itself increases risk of heart disease. It also harms more than just the heart and blood vessel system. It’s a major cause of gallstones and can worsen degenerative joint disease.

Obesity is mainly caused by taking in more calories than are used up in physical activity and daily life. When people eat too many calories, or too much saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, their blood cholesterol levels often rise. That raises their risk of heart disease.