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VA Palo Alto Health Care System


Strive For (and Maintain) a Healthy Weight

Man standing on scale smiles as doctor looks on in background.

A simple way to know if you're at a healthy weight is to know your body mass index (BMI).

By VA Center for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention
Friday, December 2, 2011
  • Maintaining a healthy weight means balancing the number of calories you eat with the calories your body uses or burns.
  • If you maintain your weight, you are "in balance." You are eating close to the same number of calories your body is using. Your weight will remain stable.
  • If you are gaining weight, you’re eating more calories than your body is using. These extra calories will be stored as fat, and you will gain weight.
  • If you are losing weight, you are eating fewer calories than you are using. Your body is using its fat storage cells for energy, so your weight is decreasing.
  • A simple way to know if you are at a healthy weight is to know your body mass index (BMI).

View Body Mass Index (BMI) table

BMI Guidelines:

  • Underweight = BMI less than 18.5
  • Normal weight = BMI of 18.5 to 24.9
  • Overweight = BMI of 25 to 29.9
  • Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater

  • Being a healthy, normal weight is good for you and will help you prevent and control many diseases and conditions. Being overweight or obese increases your risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol problems, heart disease, gallbladder disease, female health disorders, arthritis, some types of cancer, and sleep apnea.
  • Eat wisely and choose a variety of low calorie, high nutrition foods and beverages in the basic food groups. Select foods that limit your intake of fats, cholesterol, added sugars, salt, and alcohol.
  • Be as physically active as possible. For health benefits, adults should do at least 2 1/2 hours a week of moderate-intensity or 1 1/4 hours a week of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity or an equal combination of both. You'll see a difference in your weight and your health.
  • Lifestyle changes that include healthy eating, regular physical activity, and maintaining a healthy weight are the keys to good health. If you need to lose weight, losing even a little will help.
  • Losing as little as 5-10% of your current body weight can lower your risks for many diseases.
  • A reasonable and safe weight loss is 1-2 lbs per week. It might take 6 months to reach your ultimate goal, but making gradual lifestyle changes can help you maintain a healthier weight for life.
  • If you are normal weight, congratulations! To maintain your weight, engage in regular physical activity, eat wisely and weigh yourself regularly.


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