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Weight Management - Overview

What is a healthy weight?

A healthy weight is a weight that lowers your risk for health problems. For most people, body mass index (BMI) and waist size are good ways to tell if they are at a healthy weight.

But reaching a healthy weight isn't just about reaching a certain number on the scale or a certain BMI. Having healthy eating and exercise habits is even more important. When you're active and eating well, your body will settle into a weight that is healthy for you.

Did You Know?

Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will cover preventive care services, including obesity screening and nutrition counseling, at no cost to you. Learn more.

Health Insurance Center

If you want to get to a healthy weight and stay there, healthy lifestyle changes will work better than dieting. Reaching a certain number on the scale is not as important as having a healthy lifestyle.

Why pay attention to your weight?

Staying at a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do for your health. It can help prevent serious health problems, including:

But weight is only one part of your health. Even if you carry some extra weight, eating healthy foods and being more active can help you feel better, have more energy, and lower your risk for disease.

Why isn't dieting a good idea?

In today's society, there is a lot of pressure to be thin. But being thin has very little to do with good health. Many of us long to be thin, even though we're already at a healthy weight. So we get desperate, and we turn to diets for help.

  • Diets don't work.
    • Diets are temporary. When you diet, you're usually not eating the way you will need to eat over the long term. So when you quit dieting, the extra weight comes back.
    • Dieting usually means not letting yourself have many of the foods you love to eat. So when you quit dieting, you return to eating those foods as much as you used to—or more. And the extra weight comes back.
    • Dieting often means eating so little food that you're hungry all the time and don't have enough energy. So when you quit dieting, you return to eating as much as you did before—or more. And the extra weight comes back.
    • Most diet programs don't include an increase in activity, which is vital to staying at a healthy weight. So when you quit dieting, the weight comes back.
  • Dieting can actually be bad for you.
    • After they quit dieting, most people regain the weight they lost—and many gain even more. Repeatedly losing and gaining weight may be harder on the body than just being overweight.
    • Many diets do not include the right balance of foods to keep you healthy.
    • Dieting leads to eating disorders in some people.
    • Some people feel so defeated after repeatedly failing to lose weight and keep it off that they give up altogether on healthy eating and being active.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 01, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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