How to Know If Your Weight Is Healthy
by Phillip M
January 16th marks the beginning of National Healthy Weight Week, a week in which we work to build awareness of the importance of maintaining a healthy weight. Keeping your weight at an appropriate level is essential to your overall health. However, determining whether your current weight is healthy can be difficult. Below is some information to help you understand the importance of a healthy weight, as well as how to evaluate your own weight so that you can make any necessary changes.
Why You Need a Healthy Weight
Having an unhealthy weight, whether it is too low or too high, will impact your health in a number of different ways. Some of the possible effects of being overweight may include:
- Pain and limited mobility
- Higher risk of developing mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety
- Higher risk of developing certain cancers, including liver, colon and breast cancer
- Lower quality of life
- Breathing problems
- Sleep apnea
- Gallbladder disease
- Higher risk of stroke and heart disease
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
Some of these issues may improve with weight loss. However, some complications may persist even after the individual has lost weight, especially if the complication is severe. For this reason, if you are overweight, you need to begin the weight loss process as soon as possible.
If you are underweight, some of the complications you may experience include:
- Poor nutrition and low energy
- Poor immune function
- Poor fertility and/or irregular menstrual cycles
- Bone loss
Many of the complications that result from being underweight will be alleviated if the individual gains an adequate amount of weight, while others may persist.
Body Mass Index
One of the easiest ways to evaluate your weight is by calculating your body mass index, or BMI. This measurement serves as an estimate of your current body fat percentage. To calculate your BMI, divide your current weight in kilograms by the square of your current height in meters. For example, if you currently weigh 63 kg and your height is 1.6 meters, your BMI would be equal to 24.6 (63 divided by 2.56).
In general, it is best to have a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9. If your BMI is lower than 18.5, you are likely underweight. If your BMI falls between 25 and 29.9, you are typically considered overweight. A BMI of 30.0 or more indicates obesity.
Limitations of BMI
BMI is a solid screening tool for determining whether your weight is unhealthy. However, it doesn’t tell the entire story for every individual. For example, because muscle weighs more than fat, some people with significant muscle mass may have a higher BMI without being at an unhealthy weight. In such cases, further evaluation may be necessary to determine whether your weight is appropriate for your height and muscle mass.
Alternatives to BMI measurements exist. For example, because excess body fat around the waist can increase the risks of health problems, some physicians recommend measuring the circumference of the waist in order to determine whether your weight is healthy. General guidelines state that a non-pregnant woman’s waist should be no more than 35 inches in circumference, while a man’s waist should be no more than 40 inches in circumference. You can take this measurement at home with a tape measure.
How to Lose Weight Safely
If you determine that your current weight is too high to be healthy, losing weight is recommended. However, it is important to lose weight safely in order to prevent serious complications, such as malnutrition. In order to lose weight safely:
- Eat fewer calories than you burn. When you eat fewer calories than you burn, your body will look for energy from other sources, such as your body’s fat stores. This is one of the best ways to lose weight.
- Be sure you are getting all of the nutrients you need. When trying to lose weight, it may be tempting to cut out as many calories as possible in order to lose weight quickly. However, it is still important to take in an adequate amount of calories and nutrients each day. Failing to do so can harm your health and your weight loss efforts by slowing your metabolism, causing your muscles to break down and disturbing your blood sugar levels.
- Exercise regularly. Each time you exercise, you burn additional calories. In addition, when you exercise on a regular basis, you build muscle, which helps you burn more calories during your everyday activities.