What is weight management?
Weight management is the process of maintaining a healthy weight that suits your age, height, and body type. It involves balancing the calories you consume from food and beverages with the calories you burn through physical activity and metabolism.
According to the NIDDK, weight management is important for your health and well-being. It can help you prevent or reduce the risk of various chronic diseases and conditions, such as:
- Type 2 diabetes: A condition where the body does not use insulin properly, which leads to high blood sugar levels and complications in various organs.
- Heart disease: A group of diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels, such as coronary artery disease, heart attack, and stroke.
- Fatty liver disease: A condition where fat builds up in the liver and causes inflammation and scarring, which can impair liver function and lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer.
- Kidney disease: A condition where the kidneys are damaged and cannot filter waste and excess fluid from the blood, which can cause swelling, high blood pressure, and other problems.
- Some cancers: A group of diseases where abnormal cells grow uncontrollably and spread throughout the body, such as breast, colon, endometrial, esophageal, and pancreatic cancers.
Weight management can also improve your quality of life by enhancing your physical fitness, mobility, joint health, sleep quality, mood, self-esteem, and eating behaviors. There are many factors that can affect your weight management, including genetics, life cycle, lifestyle factors, environmental factors, medical conditions, or medications.
Genetics: While genetics do not directly determine your weight, they can influence your metabolism, appetite, body fat distribution, and response to certain foods and exercises.
Life cycle: Your weight may change throughout your life due to various stages and events, such as:
- Aging: As you get older, your metabolism slows down and your muscle mass decreases. You may also experience changes in your hormones, appetite, taste preferences, medications, or dental problems that can affect your weight.
- enopause: Women may experience weight gain during menopause due to hormonal changes that affect metabolism, appetite, and fat distribution.
- regnancy: Women may gain weight during pregnancy to support the baby’s growth and development. The recommended weight gain varies depending on the mother’s pre-pregnancy weight and health status.
- uberty: Children may gain weight during puberty due to increased growth rate and physical activity. They may also experience changes in their hormones, appetite, and food preferences.
Lifestyle factors: Your habits and choices can impact your weight management. Some examples are:
• Diet: The type, amount, frequency, and quality of food and beverages you consume can affect your calorie intake, nutrient intake, and satiety levels. A healthy diet consists of a variety of foods from all food groups, such as fruits, vegetables, whole rains, lean proteins, low-fat dairy products, and healthy fats. It also limits added sugars, sodium, saturated fats, trans fats,
• Physical activity: The type, amount, frequency, and intensity of physical activity you engage in can affect your calorie expenditure, muscle mass, metabolism, and cardiovascular health. A healthy level of physical activity for adults is at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week,
plus muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days per week.
• Sleep: The duration, quality, and timing of sleep you get can affect your hormones that regulate hunger and satiety,
such as leptin and ghrelin. It can also affect your energy levels, mood, and cognitive function. A healthy amount of sleep for adults is about seven to nine hours per night.
• Stress: The level, source, and duration of stress you experience can affect your cortisol levels, a hormone that increases appetite and promotes fat storage in the abdominal area. It can also affect your coping strategies, such as emotional eating or binge eating. A healthy way to manage stress is to practice relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or deep reathing.
Environmental factors: The surroundings and situations you live in can also affect your weight management.
Some examples are:
- Food environment: The availability, accessibility, affordability, and marketing of food and beverages can influence your food choices and intake. For example,
- Living in a food desert or a food swamp can limit access to healthy food options and increase exposure to unhealthy food options.
- Eating out frequently or consuming large portions can increase calorie intake and reduce control over food quality.
- Being exposed to food advertisements or cues can stimulate appetite and cravings for certain foods.
- Social environment: The people you interact with can also influence your weight management. For example,
- Having family or friends who support your weight management goals can increase your motivation and adherence to healthy behaviors.
- Facing social pressure or stigma for being overweight or underweight can affect your self-esteem and coping strategies.
- Participating in social events or celebrations that involve food can increase calorie intake and reduce dietary adherence.
Medical conditions: Some health problems can affect your weight management by affecting your metabolism, hormones, or appetite.
Some examples are:
- Hypothyroidism: A condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones, which regulate metabolism.
- Diabetes: A condition where the body does not produce enough insulin or use it properly, which regulates blood sugar levels.
- Celiac disease: A condition where the immune system reacts to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, which damages the lining of the small intestine and impairs nutrient absorption.
- Cancer: A group of diseases where abnormal cells grow uncontrollably and spread throughout the body, which consumes a lot of energy and nutrients.
Medications: Some drugs can affect your weight management by affecting your metabolism, hormones, or appetite.
Some examples are:
- Metformin: A drug that treats type 2 diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels and increasing insulin sensitivity.
- Antidepressants: Drugs that treat depression by altering brain chemicals that regulate mood, such as serotonin,
- norepinephrine, and dopamine.
- Chemotherapy: Drugs that treat cancer by killing rapidly dividing cells in the body, which may also affect healthy cells.
Weight management is the process of maintaining a healthy weight that suits your age, height, and body type. It involves balancing the calories you consume from food and beverages with the calories you burn through physical activity and metabolism. Weight management is important for your health and well-being. It can help you prevent or reduce the risk of various chronic diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, fatty liver disease, kidney disease, and some cancers.
Weight management can also improve your quality of life by enhancing your physical fitness, mobility, joint health, sleep quality, mood, self-esteem, and eating behaviors. There are many factors that can affect your weight management, including genetics, life cycle, lifestyle factors, environmental factors, medical conditions, or medications. Weight management requires a long-term commitment to healthy behaviors and lifestyle changes.
You should consult with your healthcare provider before starting any weight management program to determine your individual needs and goals.