Do you have a healthy weight?

By Lynn Roblin MSc.RD.

According to the Canadian Community Health Survey (2004) about sixty per cent of Canadian adults are overweight. More men (65%) than women (54%) are overweight.

Having a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25 is considered overweight and increases risk of health problems particularly when excess weight is carried around the middle. A waist measurement greater than 35 inches (88cm) for women or 40 inches (102cm) for men is associated with a higher risk heart disease and type 2 diabetes. For at-risk individuals, some weight loss is beneficial and desirable.

Unfortunately the people with the greatest health risks are not the ones trying hardest to lose weight. It’s mainly girls and women who already have a healthy weight but are unhappy with their bodies who are trying to lose weight. Social pressures to be thin is perpetuated by role models in the media and in magazines, helps explain why women have unrealistic weight expectations.

Individuals who have a healthy weight need to accept and understand their bodies and set realistic expectations. Genetics plays a role in determining an individual’s size and shape so it’s important not to strive for a body that was never meant to be. Healthy weights come in all shapes and sizes.

Here are some tips to help you on your way to a healthier weight.

  • Be realistic about your body weight. Recognize the size and shape your were born with and set realistic weight goals.
  • Get involved in some form of regular physical activity. Exercise plays a significant role in helping you attain and maintain a healthy weight. It also helps you look and feel your best.
  • Eat a balanced breakfast every day. Skipping breakfast is linked with weight gain and greater food intake later in the day. It’s better to have a small healthy snack than to miss breakfast altogether.
  • Be aware of what influences your food intake. Social, environmental or emotional factors determine when you eat and how much. Tune into your body, eat when you are hungry and quit when you are full.
  • Eat more high-carbohydrate foods like whole grains, vegetables, fruit, beans, peas and lentils each day.
  • Reduce your intake of fat. Choose lean meats and lower-fat milk products more often. Have foods that add extra fat without essential nutrients less often. Some high-fat foods to watch out for include French fries, doughnuts, deep fried fish and chicken pieces, nuts, chips, cookies, butter, margarine, regular salad dressings, gravy and rich sauces.
  • If weight loss is necessary it should come off the way it went on- slowly! A healthy rate of weight loss is one to two pounds (1/2 to 1 kilogram) per week. A faster weight loss is less likely to be permanent and may harm your health in the long term.

To find out your BMI, track your eating and activity habits and set some personal goals to achieve a healthy weight try Dietitians of Canada new eaTracker.

For information on becoming more active check out Canada’s Physical Activity Guidelines.

If you need individual weight control counselling contact a Registered Dietitian. Click on Nutrition Advice to find a consulting dietitian in your community. Check out the healthy weight web sites listed in the Nutrition Links section.