Healthy bodies come in many shapes and sizes. However, if you want to lose weight, well-balanced eating is one of the most important things you can do to help lower your weight and keep it
there. For information on weight loss, see Lifestyle Steps for Healthy Weight Loss: Getting Started and Lifestyle Steps for Healthy Weight Loss: Taking Action. For information about obesity,
visit Health Canada – Obesity or BC Guidelines – Overweight and Obese Adults: Diagnosis and Management.
What is obesity?
Obesity is a condition where a person has accumulated so much body fat that it might have a negative effect on their health.
If a person’s bodyweight is at least 20% higher than it should be, he or she is considered obese. If your Body Mass Index (BMI) is between 25 and 29.9 you are considered overweight. If your
BMI is 30 or over you are considered obese.
Because of these risks, it is important to lose weight even if you don’t feel bad now. It is hard to change eating habits and exercise habits. But you can do it if you make a plan.
How do you know if you are obese?
You can use a measurement called a body mass index, or BMI, along with your waist size, to decide whether your weight is dangerous to your health. The BMI is a combination of your height and
weight. If you have a BMI of 30 or higher, unhealthy eating patterns, and too little physical activity, your extra weight is putting your health in danger.
Use the Interactive Tool: Is Your BMI Increasing Your Health Risks? to find out your body mass index.
Use the Interactive Tool: What Is Your Child’s BMI? to check BMI in children ages 2 to 19.
People who carry too much fat around the middle, rather than around the hips, are more likely to have health problems. In women, a waist size of 88 cm (35 in.) or more raises the chance for disease. In men, a waist size of 102 cm (40 in.) or more raises the chance for disease. Waist size cutoff may be lower for some people.
What Is BMI?
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a mathematical calculation involving height and weight, irrespective of family history, gender, age or race. BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s body weight in
kilograms by their height in meters squared (weight [kg] height [m]2) or by using the conversion with pounds (lbs) and inches (in) squared as shown below, This number can be misleading,
however, for very muscular people, or for pregnant or lactating women.
[Weight (lbs) ÷ height (in)2 ] x 704.5 =BMI
The BMI cutoffs are:
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5-24.9 Normal weight
30 and greater Obese
40 and greater Morbid or extreme obesity
BMI is frequently used in population studies because of its ease of determination and well-supported association with mortality and health effects.
What causes obesity?
When you take in more calories than you burn off, you gain weight. How you eat, how active you are, and other things affect how your body uses calories and whether you gain weight.
If your family members are obese, you may have inherited a tendency to gain weight. And your family also helps form your eating and lifestyle habits, which can lead to obesity.
Also, our busy lives make it harder to plan and cook healthy meals. For many of us, it’s easier to reach for prepared foods, go out to eat, or go to the drive-through. But these foods are often high in saturated fat and calories. Portions are often too large. Work schedules, long commutes, and other commitments also cut into the time we have for physical activity.
You’ve tried diets, but you always gain the weight back. What can you do?
Focus on health, not diets. Diets are hard to stay on and usually don’t work in the long run. It is very hard to stay with a diet that includes lots of big changes in your eating habits.
Instead of a diet, focus on lifestyle changes that will improve your health and achieve the right balance of energy and calories. To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you take in. You can do it by eating healthy foods in reasonable amounts and becoming more active. And you need to do it every day.
Little steps mean a lot. Losing just 5% to 10% of your body weight can make a difference in your health.
Make a plan for change. Work with your doctor to create a plan that will work for you. Ask family members and friends for help in keeping with your plan. Ask your doctor to recommend a
dietitian to help you with meal planning.
When you stray from your plan, don’t get upset. Figure out what got you off track and how you can fix it.
How can you stay on your plan for change?
It’s hard to change habits. You have to be ready. Make sure this is the right time for you. Are you ready to make a plan and stay on it? Do you have the support of your family and friends? Do you know what your first steps will be? Becoming healthier and staying that way is a lifelong effort.
Most people have more success when they make small changes, one step at a time. For example, you might eat an extra piece of fruit, walk 10 minutes more, or add more vegetables to your meals.
Can you take medicines or have surgery to lose weight?
Surgery and medicines don’t work by themselves. Most people also need to make changes in what they eat and how active they are.
Before your doctor will prescribe medicines or surgery, he or she will probably want you to work on healthier eating and activity for at least 6 months. Even if your doctor gives you medicines or recommends surgery, you will need to keep your new healthy habits for the rest of your life.