Obesity and Diet
If your weight is substantially
above what is healthy for a person with your
body composition, genetic background, and
overall health status (based on other risk
factors you might have), you may be
considered obese. Obesity is a more serious
condition than just being a little
overweight because of the increased risk of:
can give you a good sense of whether or not
your weight puts you in the category of
being obese. As a rule of thumb, you might
find the weight categories shown in the
following tables to be useful.
Ideal Weight for Women
Height Small Medium Large
in Shoes Frame Frame Frame
6' 138 to 151 lb 148 to 162 lb 158 to 179 lb
5'11" 135 to 148 lb 145 to 159 lb 155 to 176 lb
5'10" 132 to 145 lb 142 to 156 lb 152 to 173 lb
5'9" 129 to 142 lb 139 to 153 lb 149 to 170 lb
5'8" 126 to 139 lb 136 to 150 lb 146 to 167 lb
5'7" 123 to 136 lb 133 to 147 lb 143 to 163 lb
5'6" 120 to 133 lb 130 to 144 lb 140 to 159 lb
5'5" 117 to 130 lb 127 to 141 lb 137 to 155 lb
5'4" 114 to 127 lb 124 to 138 lb 134 to 151 lb
5'3" 111 to 124 lb 121 to 135 lb 131 to 147 lb
5'2" 108 to 121 lb 118 to 132 lb 128 to 143 lb
5'1" 106 to 118 lb 115 to 129 lb 125 to 140 lb
5' 104 to 115 lb 113 to 126 lb 122 to 137 lb
4'11" 103 to 113 lb 111 to 123 lb 120 to 134 lb
4'10" 102 to 111 lb 109 to 121 lb 118 to 131 lb
From height and weight tables of the Metropolitan Life
Insurance Company, 1983. The ideal weights given in these
tables are for ages 25 to 59. The weights assume you are
wearing shoes with 1-inch heels and indoor clothing
weighing 3 pounds.
size or body build is determined by the
thickness of the bones in your elbows,
knees, ankles, and wrists. The Metropolitan
Life Insurance Company offers this method of
determining your body frame size: Extend
your arm and bend your forearm upward at a
90 degree angle. With your fingers straight,
turn the inside of your wrist toward your
body. Place your thumb and index finger of
the other hand on the two prominent bones of
the elbow. Measure the space between the
fingers against a ruler or a tape measure.
Compare your measurement with the figures in
the table below. Elbow measurements less
than those given indicate a small frame;
greater measurements indicate a large frame.
Height in Elbow Breadth for
1-inch Heels Medium Frame (Women)
4'10" to 5'3" 2 1/4" to 2 1/2"
5'4" to 6'0" 2 3/8" to 2 5/8"
Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, 1983.
important to consider body composition. If
you are muscular and athletic, you may weigh
more than a sedentary person of the same
height and frame size, yet you may be trim,
while your sedentary counterpart may be
overweight. If your weight comes from
muscle, you may fall technically into the
overweight category yet not be fat. However,
in general, as you approach 20% or more
above your desirable weight, your excess
weight usually comes from fat.
percentage can be determined by several
methods, such as skinfold thickness,
underwater weighing, total body water (hydrometry),
and whole body potassium.
Diet is a
term associated with controlling the amount
and/or types of food eaten. It most often
means a reduction in calories and/or
elimination of specific fatty or empty
requires a change in behavior that almost
understanding of your own health
a plan for
rewards for following your program
in the amount of physical activity you
regularly engage in.
effective diet is not a diet at all, but a
gradual change in eating and physical
activity habits that you can continue for
the rest of your life. The best way to find
a safe, healthy, effective weight reduction
program is to seek the advice of your
way to lose weight is to reduce the number
of calories and improve the quality of the
foods you choose. The best diet is one that
helps you lose weight slowly but steadily,
so you can maintain your ideal weight after
you have reached your goal.
reduction diet needs to provide adequate
nutrition, a good variety of foods, and a
reduction in calories. This is usually best
done by limiting fat, especially saturated
fat, in the diet. Pregnant women should not
go on a weight reduction diet.
Talk to your
doctor about making lifestyle changes to
Selecting foods to
Keep a food
diary. As soon as you eat or drink, write it
down. It may be helpful to use a small
pocket diary. Seeing what you eat and drink
will help you examine your eating patterns
and food habits.
weight in a healthy manner, follow these
least six 8-ounce glasses of water each
unlimited amounts of vegetables and
poultry, and fish
broiled meat, fish, and poultry
dressing containing little or no oil.
Green leafy vegetables
regular but limited amounts of:
skim milk, cheeses, and yogurts
(lentils, peas, and beans)
carbohydrates (whole wheat bread, whole
grain cereals without sugar)
Significantly limit how much you eat of
carbohydrates (sugar) and foods
grain products such as white rice and
fats such as butter, margarine, and fat
that contain fats, such as pastries,
cakes, and cheese
To have a
balanced diet, be sure to choose a variety
of foods from the basic food groups:
A calorie is
a unit of measurement used to express the
energy value of food. Your body burns
calories to use for basic body functions.
Proteins, carbohydrates, and fats contain
calories and produce energy. To lose weight,
reduce your calorie intake (without giving
up nutrition) while increasing the number of
calories used in physical activity.
calories less a day can result in losing 1
pound a week. One to one and a half pounds
(2 pounds maximum) is the ideal amount to
lose in a week. If you lose more than that
each week, you begin to lose muscle rather
woman needs 1800 to 2300 calories a day.
Most weight reduction diets suggest 1200 to
1500 calories a day for women. Ask your
doctor or dietitian to help you determine
how many calories you need a day.
The rate at
which you can lose weight depends on your
body's metabolism. This is the rate at which
your body uses the energy from food for
basic body functions. Metabolism can be
increased by increasing physical activity.
may occur more quickly at the beginning of a
diet because the body releases extra water
that was retained.
Sit down and
relax while you eat your meals. Avoid
distractions such as the phone and TV.
Chewing your food thoroughly helps
digestion. Eating small, frequent meals
instead of three full meals a day is also
helpful. You should eat every 4 to 5 hours.
This keeps your blood sugar at a constant
level and helps keep you from feeling
hungry. Finish your meals with a piece of
fruit instead of a sweet dessert.
You must eat
a minimum quantity of appropriate food or
your body will shut down its metabolism in
an effort to survive the lean time. This
happens when people go on "starvation"
diets. The body's survival response prevents
them from losing weight.
fad diets may be dangerous. They can be
divided into several groups:
calorie-conscious commercial programs.
diets result in a quick initial loss of
weight. These diets allow unlimited amounts
of high-protein foods, but little or no
diets are based on food combinations. These
diets don't count calories, are monotonous,
and encourage unrealistic eating habits.
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can appear
after a few days. Some of these diets
include the Mayo (or grapefruit) Diet, the
Beverly Hills Diet, and high-carbohydrate
The Mayo diet
is based on the belief that grapefruit
causes weight loss by causing fat to be
burned off faster. One of the problems is
that the diet is high in saturated fats and
cholesterol. The Beverly Hills Diet is low
in protein, vitamins, and minerals such as
iron, zinc, calcium, and magnesium.
High-carbohydrate diets (for example, Jane
Fonda, Pritikin, Bloomingdale's Eat to
Succeed) are based on high-carbohydrate,
high-fiber foods. Some are balanced, others
Calorie-conscious commercial programs and
weight loss clinics offer group support and
motivation for the dieter, a wide variety of
foods, and a calorie intake between 500 and
1500 a day. These programs are often
expensive and should not be used without
medical supervision. Some programs can
provide excellent support in changing bad
eating habits and maintaining a program over
calorie diets and total fasting (eating less
than 500 calories a day) are potentially
fatal and require medical supervision.
that you speak with your doctor if you
choose any of the popular diets.
Protein-sparing modified fasting is used for
patients who are more than 30% to 40% over
their ideal weight. Before recommending this
diet, your doctor will evaluate your
cardiovascular system. You remain under the
doctor's care while you are on this diet.
This diet is
not recommended for children, adolescents,
pregnant women, nursing mothers, the
elderly, those who are moderately
overweight, and those who have problems with
their health, such as high blood pressure or
that combines a very low calorie diet (to
achieve a large initial weight loss) with
medical supervision, counseling, an exercise
program, and behavior modification can
provide some initial motivation for a person
trying to deal with obesity. However, the
disadvantages of losing muscle may outweigh
any quick success benefit.
For those who
compulsively overeat, Overeaters Anonymous
may help. The program is free. Write or
World Service Office
4025 Spencer Street #203
Torrance, CA 90503
program that can help you lose weight is
Weight Watchers. To learn about Weight
Watchers meetings and programs in your
region, call 1-800-651-6000.
physical activity to lose weight
weight management program is not a diet at
all. It is adding daily walking to your
routine. Start with a comfortable goal: 5,
10, or 15 minutes a day. Walk this amount at
least four times a week--seven times, if you
can manage it. Each week add 5 minutes to
your time until after several weeks you have
worked up to 30 to 40 minutes per day.
Invite your spouse or a child you've been
meaning to spend more time with.
to the calories you are burning as you walk,
regular physical activity increases your
metabolic rate. Therefore, you will be using
more calories 24 hours a day, even as you
sleep. If you are unable to walk, ask your
doctor to recommend an alternative exercise.
to helping you lose or maintain your weight,
regular physical activity lowers your pulse,
blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood
sugar. It also increases your energy level.
Talk to your
health care provider about what type of
physical activity is right for you.
iMcKesson Clinical Reference Products.
Published by iMcKesson Clinical Reference
Copyright © 1991-2000 iMcKesson LLC. All
Adapted from content provided
by iMcKesson, LLC
Review Date: 7/25/2001