Weight Management: A Key to Good Health
If you struggle with your weight, you are not alone. Nearly 3 in 4 adults ages 20 or older in the United States are either overweight or obese, and the rate for children and teens ages 2 to 19 is nearly 1 in 5. The older we get, the harder it is to maintain a healthy weight. Besides the physical and emotional burden of carrying extra pounds, another concern is the impact it has on your quality of life and health: Why?
Being overweight or obese puts you at risk for many serious medical conditions, including cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Medical professionals use body mass index (BMI) to distinguish between normal weight, overweight, and obesity. BMI is calculated using your height and weight. A body mass index (BMI) over 25 is generally considered overweight. The higher the BMI above 30, the worse your health risk. Ask your doctor what BMI is healthy for you.
Endocrinologist, Dr. Olga Calof states “There are different types of weight-gain, and it is important to understand them. It might be emotional eating, not knowing when to stop eating, always feeling hungry, or not being able to burn energy. Your doctor can help you understand which type you have and work with you to come up with a plan.”
Beyond the numbers, it is important to understand what causes you to put on extra weight. It occurs when over time, you consume more calories than you burn. This energy imbalance causes your body to store fat for use in the future. There are many factors that contribute to this energy imbalance that result in weight gain.
- How much you eat
- What you eat and drink
- Your level of physical activity
- High amounts of stress
- Lack of sleep
- Health conditions
Lifestyle factors can have a big impact on gaining—or losing—weight. Numerous studies have found that even a 5 to 10% weight loss can significantly improve your health and quality of life. A small weight loss can improve chronic medical conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. It can even prevent patients with pre-diabetes from becoming diabetic.
Endocrinologist Dr. Sahil Parikh says, “I definitely want all patients to pursue healthy lifestyle choices, but research suggests only a small percentage of patients achieve 5-10% weight loss through diet and exercise alone. I want our patients to know we also offer options to add to lifestyle changes that increase the chance of long-term success. This includes working with nutritionists, weight loss medication, and even weight loss surgery when appropriate for you.”
If you need to lose weight, the National Institutes of Health recommends the following strategies:
Choose heart-healthy foods – The DASH eating plan requires no special foods and instead provides daily and weekly nutritional goals.
- Eat more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
- Include fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils
- Limit foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils such as coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils
- Limit sugar-sweetened beverages (including sodas, juices, sports drinks)
- Limit sweets (candy, cake, cookies, etc.)
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Increase physical activity – Most adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity each week. It is also recommended that adults do muscle-strengthening activities for major muscle groups on two or more days each week.
- Limit unhealthy eating behaviors – Eating more calories than you burn over time will lead to weight gain. Learn what your target calorie intake should be and stick within that range on most days. In addition, saturated fat in your daily diet should be no more than 10% of your total calories. For a 2,000-calorie diet, that’s about 200 calories or about 22 grams of saturated fat. And try to limit the amount of added sugar in your diet. It should total no more than 10% of your calories.
Most importantly, keep it simple and repeatable. Choose one thing you can do today like choosing water to drink or taking a walk. Remember, maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important ways to safeguard your health and extend your life. Your medical group, Providence Medical Associates has many resources to support you including nutritionists, classes, and weight loss specialists. If you want more guidance, be sure to discuss your weight loss goals and all your options with your physician or call 866-909-DOCS to schedule an appointment today!