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Weight Management

Weight management is a key part of maintaining a fit, fighting force, and to the overall health of all Americans. Today, up to two-thirds of adults in the U.S. are considered overweight or obese. Obesity is when the amount of body weight due to the accumulation of fat leads to the risk of serious medical problems. On the other hand, an adult is considered overweight when they weigh more than what is considered to be healthy. It’s important to note that, like obesity, being overweight can lead to serious medical issues as well.

The difference between being overweight and being obese is determined by body mass index, or BMI. Using a formula that factors a person’s weight to height ratio, this index provides a good estimate of body fat. A person that is of a normal weight generally has a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9, which means that anything below 18.5 is defined as underweight. On the other hand, someone who is overweight has a BMI of 25.0 to 29.9, while an obese person has a BMI of 30.0 and above.

Complications of Being Overweight or Obese

Failure to maintain a healthy weight can have serious consequences. Being overweight or obese has been linked to a variety of conditions including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, sleep disorders, and some types of cancer, to name just a few.

Developing a healthy lifestyle is the primary way to maintain a normal weight and prevent obesity. Making healthy lifestyle choices is not only good for preventing weight gain, but can also help patients lose the extra weight they may already have. It comes as no surprise that many of the lifestyle habits we have as adults were established during childhood. Children whose parents encourage them to make healthy choices when they’re young are more likely to successfully prevent obesity when they’re adults. A healthy diet and appropriate activity level are both key to preventing obesity.

Weight Management Tips

Regardless of age, there are many choices that can help people effectively avoid excess weight gain. These include:

Follow a healthy eating plan. Focusing on energy balance will assist people in making healthy food choices. It can be helpful to develop a habit of obtaining information about the quantity and quality of calories that are contained in the foods that we eat.

  1. Focus on portion size. When we eat out, restaurants typically serve twice as much food as we need, if not more, so preparing smaller meals at home or using portion control when eating out can allow patients to consume healthier portion sizes.
  2. Be active on a regular basis. Try to find activities that are enjoyable and that include aerobic or muscle-strengthening activities, or both. It’s often helpful to do these activities with family or friends because it typically makes it more enjoyable.
  3. Decrease the amount of screen time. Limiting the use of TVs, computers, and videogames will make more time for physical activity. It’s generally recommended that non-work- or homework-related screen time should not exceed two hours a day.
  4. Keep track of weight, body mass index, and waist circumference. This will allow people to maintain a higher awareness of their health, as well as understanding how these bodily changes are affected by diet and physical activity.

Although it’s not always easy, developing these habits can help to not only achieve physical health, but mental and social health as well.

Air Force Medicine