Body Weight

How does body weight affect my health?

Being overweight or obese increases your risk for cardiovascular disease. That’s especially true if you also have another risk factor, such as high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, lack of physical activity or if you smoke. Obesity, in turn, contributes to several of these risk factors. It is also linked to other types of disease, including type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, sleep apnea and mental health issues, among others. The higher the body mass index (BMI), which is a proportion of your weight and height, the higher the chances of certain diseases like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and certain cancers. Obesity actually can increase the risk of diabetes 20 times and also significantly increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and gallstones. Losing weight and keeping it off requires change in habit, but a little weight loss goes a long way. Losing just five to seven percent of your total body weight can significantly help reduce the risk of obesity-related health conditions.

What increases my risk?

Eating and drinking more calories than you burn causes your body to store them as fat, and stored body fat causes a higher body weight. While stored fat is a likely contributor, the causes of being overweight or obesity are complex and varied. Genetics contributes to obesity, both in body composition and shared lifestyle behaviors. Poor eating habits, such as skipping breakfast, consuming foods and beverages that are high in calories and low in nutrition and eating large portions, can quickly increase body weight, as does a lack of physical activity. A chronic lack of sleep is linked to changes in your metabolism that may also contribute to obesity. And some medical conditions, and the medications used to treat them, can cause weight gain.

What can I do to decrease my risk?

Achieving a healthy weight loss of one to two pounds per week requires taking in 500 to 1,000 fewer calories a day than you burn. Click here to find out an appropriate daily calorie goal for your age, gender and height. Routine physical activity can also help with weight loss, and carries additional benefits like improved sleep and lower blood pressure. Aim for at least 30 minutes of walking, running, biking, aerobics or some other form of physical activity per day. If you don’t have the time to fit 30 minutes in at once, start by breaking it down into smaller chunks, like three 10-minute walks.

What can help me lose weight?

There are a many ways to lose weight, but according to the National Control Registry, most people who have lost weight and kept it off did the following: ate breakfast every day, weighed themselves at least once per week, watched less than 10 hours of television per week, and were physically active for about one hour every day. Everyone is different, though, so focus on finding what works best for you.