Do you know if your current weight is healthy? “Underweight”, “normal”, “overweight”, and “obese” are all labels for ranges of weight. Obese and overweight mean that your weight is greater than it should be for your health. Underweight means that it is lower than it should be for your health. Your healthy body weight depends on your sex and height. For children, it also depends on your age.
A sudden, unexpected change in weight can be a sign of a medical problem. Causes for sudden weight loss can include
- Thyroid problems
- Infectious diseases
- Digestive diseases
- Certain medicines
Sudden weight gain can be due to medicines, thyroid problems, heart failure, and kidney disease.
Good nutrition and exercise can help in losing weight. Eating extra calories within a well-balanced diet and treating any underlying medical problems can help to add weight.
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It is an eating plan that is based on research studies sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). These studies showed that DASH lowers high blood pressure and improves levels of cholesterol. This reduces your risk of getting heart disease.
The DASH Diet
- Emphasizes vegetables, fruits, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
- Includes whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils.
- Limits sodium, sweets, sugary beverages, and red meats.
Along with DASH, other lifestyle changes can help lower your blood pressure. They include staying at a healthy weight, exercising, and not smoking.
Fat is a type of nutrient. You need some fat in your diet but not too much. Fats give you energy and help your body absorb vitamins. Dietary fat also plays a major role in your cholesterol levels.
But not all fats are the same. You should try to avoid
- Saturated fats such as butter, solid shortening, and lard
- Trans fats. These are found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, cookies, snack foods, and other foods made with or fried in partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs). By 2018, most U.S. companies will not be allowed to add PHOs to food.
Try to replace them with oils such as canola, olive, safflower, sesame, or sunflower. Of course, eating too much fat will put on the pounds. Fat has twice as many calories as proteins or carbohydrates.
Fiber is a substance in plants. Dietary fiber is the kind you eat. It’s a type of carbohydrate. You may also see it listed on a food label as soluble fiber or insoluble fiber. Both types have important health benefits.
Good sources of dietary fiber include
- Whole grains
- Nuts and seeds
- Fruit and vegetables
Dietary fiber adds bulk to your diet and makes you feel full faster, helping you control your weight. It helps digestion and helps prevent constipation. Most Americans don’t eat enough dietary fiber. But add it to your diet slowly. Increasing dietary fiber too quickly can lead to gas, bloating, and cramps.
Obesity means having too much body fat. It is different from being overweight, which means weighing too much. The weight may come from muscle, bone, fat, and/or body water. Both terms mean that a person’s weight is greater than what’s considered healthy for his or her height.
Obesity occurs over time when you eat more calories than you use. The balance between calories-in and calories-out differs for each person. Factors that might affect your weight include your genetic makeup, overeating, eating high-fat foods, and not being physically active.
Being obese increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, and some cancers. If you are obese, losing even 5 to 10 percent of your weight can delay or prevent some of these diseases. For example, that means losing 10 to 20 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds.
Obesity means having too much body fat. It is different from being overweight, which means weighing too much. Both terms mean that a person’s weight is greater than what’s considered healthy for his or her height. Children grow at different rates, so it isn’t always easy to know when a child is obese or overweight. Ask your health care provider to check whether your child’s weight and height are in a healthy range.
If a weight-loss program is necessary, involve the whole family in healthy habits so your child doesn’t feel singled out. Encourage healthy eating by
- Serving more fruits and vegetables
- Buying fewer soft drinks and high-fat, high-calorie snack foods
- Making sure your child eats breakfast every day
- Eating fast food less often
- Not using food as a reward
Physical activity is also very important. Kids need about 60 minutes each day. It does not have to happen all at once. Several short periods of activity during the day are just as good.
Keeping a healthy weight is crucial. If you are underweight, overweight, or obese, you may have a higher risk of certain health problems.
About two thirds of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Achieving a healthy weight can help you control your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. It might also help you prevent weight-related diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and some cancers.
Eating too much or not being physically active enough will make you overweight. To maintain your weight, the calories you eat must equal the energy you burn. To lose weight, you must use more calories than you eat. A weight-control strategy might include
- Choosing low-fat, low-calorie foods
- Eating smaller portions
- Drinking water instead of sugary drinks
- Being physically active
Eating extra calories within a well-balanced diet can help to add weight.
Weight loss surgery helps people with extreme obesity to lose weight. It may be an option if you cannot lose weight through diet and exercise or have serious health problems caused by obesity.
There are different types of weight loss surgery. They often limit the amount of food you can take in. Some types of surgery also affect how you digest food and absorb nutrients. All types have risks and complications, such as infections, hernias, and blood clots.
Many people who have the surgery lose weight quickly, but regain some weight later on. If you follow diet and exercise recommendations, you can keep most of the weight off. You will also need medical follow-up for the rest of your life.