Preventing Heart Disease
Weight Management

Being excessively overweight is a risk factor for many illnesses, including heart disease and stroke. Excess weight increases the strain on the heart and contributes to high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and diabetes.

In North America, for instance, more than 65 million adults — that's one-third of the adult population — weigh 20 percent or more over their ideal weight.

Determining Your Ideal Weight

The best weight for you is your lean body mass (everything but fat) plus just the amount of fat necessary for good health: 10 percent to 18 percent of total body weight for men and 18 percent to 25 percent of total body weight for women. A health professional can estimate your percentage by measuring your body fat with an instrument called a skinfold caliper.

A more common, but less accurate, way to determine your ideal weight is to use standard weight charts based on a person's height and frame. One such chart, the body mass index (BMI), measures weight (in kilograms) divided by height, squared.

BMI Ranges

less than 18.5 underweight (increased health risk)
18.5 to 24.9 ideal weight
25 to 29.9 overweight (increased health risk)
30 or higher excessively overweight (significant health risk)

What is Your BMI?

To determine your BMI, use the calculator below. Warning: In general, BMIs are not a good indication of healthy weight for children, pregnant or nursing women, or body-builders.

Height: inches cms
Weight: pounds kgs
Waist-to-Hip Ratio

Research suggests that heart health can be affected by body shape, as well as by weight. People whose waists are nearly as large as or larger than their hips have a higher rate of heart disease.

To determine your waist-to-hip ratio, measure your waist just above the navel. Measure your hips at their widest. Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement. A waist-to-hip ratio greater than 0.8 for women and 0.95 for men indicates higher risk for heart disease.

A new, good indicator of heart disease risk is simply a waist measurement. If your waist is greater than 40 inches (for men) or greater than 35 inches (for women), your intra-abdominal fat level is too high, increasing your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Losing Weight Permanently

Losing weight has been a lifelong struggle for millions of Americans. A word of caution: highly restrictive diets, liquid diets, potions, pills, and other miracle cures generally do not result in long-term weight loss and may be harmful to your health. Most people who lose weight rapidly gain it back within a year.

Permanent weight loss comes from making permanent healthy lifestyle changes. You can lose weight by eating a balanced, low fat, high fiber diet and getting 30 minutes of physical activity daily.

Small, consistent changes, over time, will bring you closer and closer to your ideal weight. For example, reducing daily calorie intake by 250 to 500 calories will result in weight loss of 1/2 to 1 pound per week. If you skipped dessert and trimmed 150 calories off your daily food intake, in a year you would lose 15 pounds or more!

Insight From Weight Loss Veterans

In an attempt to undercover the secrets of permanent weight loss, researchers from the National Weight Control Registry recently studied the behaviors of 629 women and 155 men who had lost an average of 66 lbs. (30 kg.) and kept off at least 30 lbs. (13.6 kg.) for a period of five years or more. Most of the women and men in the study had been overweight since childhood and had histories of yo-yo dieting (losing and regaining weight).

What was different this time that led to their success? The group reported an increased use of exercise and a stricter dietary approach. Most individuals exercised by walking, aerobic dancing, swimming, biking, weight lifting, stair-stepping, or jogging. Nearly all participants said that the long-term weight loss led to:

Weight Control Tips

Any weight loss — even 10 to 15 pounds — can significantly reduce the health risks associated with being overweight. To lose weight:

Steps You Can Take Today:

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