Why Care About Your Weight?

Too much extra weight can put you at a higher risk for:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Cancer
  • Sleep apnea
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Liver disease
  • Irregular menstrual periods for women

So how do you know if you have too much weight?  Health care providers use two tools to estimate body fat distribution and if a person is underweight, normal, overweight, or obese:

  1. Waist Circumference
  2. Body Mass Index (BMI)

Waste Circumference

Women with a waist of more than 35 inches or men with a waist measurement of more than 40 inches may have a higher disease risk than people with smaller waists. To measure your waist circumference, place a tape measure around your bare abdomen just above your hip bone. Be sure that the tape is snug (but does not squeeze your skin) and that it is parallel to the floor.

Body Mass Index

Use the body mass index (BMI) calculator to check your weight status.  Here’s how to interpret your BMI score:

  • Below 18.5 - Underweight
  • 18.5-24.9 - Normal
  • 25.0-29.9 - Overweight
  • 30.0 and higher - Obese

What Helps Put on Weight?

1. Genetics. Your genes affect the amount of body fat you store and how your body fat is distributed.  Genes also help determine how efficiently your body converts the food you consume into energy for your body. Be careful!  Don’t fall in to the trap believing that you are predestined for diabetes or heart disease because “I have my parents genes, right?”. Wrong! Think of your genes as light switches. The lifestyle choices you make, including food and exercise, can flip that switch on or off.

2. Family history. Family members tend to share similar eating, lifestyle and activity habits. Your family history isn’t inescapable. You can break the mold through lifestyle changes.

3. Age. There is no doubt that your body changes inside and out as you age. It’s not all hormonal changes, weight gain, and loss of muscle mass. The way you age is the result of how you take care of yourself over the years. It’s not too late. Losing flexibility? Try stretching for five minutes at the beginning of each day. Can’t carry the weight you once could?  Commit to lifting weights or using a tension rope two to three times a week.  Strength training is more than just building muscle mass.  Strong muscles are healthy for your heart and protect your joints and back.

4. Diet. The foods you buy and eat directly influence your health and weight. You can reduce your weight and risk of disease by making some key lifestyle changes.

5. Exercise. Did you know that a pound of muscle burns more calories than a pound of fat?  Find out ways to reduce your risk for chronic disease.