Aim For A Healthy Weight

The newest Dietary Guidelines for Americans were written in the year 2000. This time there are ten guidelines to help Americans be healthier. These guidelines are intended for healthy children (ages 2 years and older) and adults of any age.

The new guidelines have three basic messages:

  • Aim for fitness.
  • Build a healthy base.
  • Choose sensibly.

Aim for a healthy weight is a part of the basic message "Aim for Fitness." It is a very important guideline. Being overweight can increase your risk for high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some types of cancer.

One easy way to get an idea if an adult is overweight is to measure around the waist. Measure just above your hipbones, while standing. Health risks increase as waist measurement increases. If the waist measurement is greater than 35 inches for women or 40 inches for men, your health is at risk. Keep track of your waist measurement. If it gets bigger, you are probably gaining fat.

Control your Weight

  • We are likely to gain weight when there is a lot food around and when we use cars and equipment to save time and energy. It is possible to manage your weight by balancing the calories you eat with the physical activity you choose.
  • To control your weight it is important to make changes in your eating habits. Eat a diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, skim milk and fish, lean meat, poultry, or beans every day.
  • Eat less of high fat and high sugar foods such as desserts, soda pop, pastries, cookies, candy bars, and chips. These foods are high in calories and can be a part of the struggle to control your weight.
  • The amount you eat is just as important as what you eat. A serving of vegetables, fruit, rice, and pasta is one-half cup. A serving of meat or poultry is three ounces. Three ounces of meat is about the size of a deck of cards. One slice of bread is a serving or one eight-once glass of milk.
  • Physical activity helps to control our weight. If we burn more calories with activity, we can eat a little more food. Adults should get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. Moderate physical activity can be taking a walk, working in the garden, cleaning house, or swimming.
  • Even small changes in the number of calories and the amount of physical activity can keep you from gaining weight or help you lose weight.

Weight Control and Children

Children need enough food for proper growth. Too many calories and too little physical activity have caused many children to be overweight. Offer healthy food, low in fat and sugar to your children. Encourage your children to be active. Join them in games and walks. Limit the time they spend watching television or playing computer or video games. Remember that keeping your weight at a healthy level will make you feel better and reduce your risk of many diseases.

Prepared by: Barbara Farner, Extension Educator, Nutrition and Wellness, University of Illinois Extension. Matteson Extension Center.

Edited by: Katherine Reuter, Extension Educator, Consumer and Family Economics, University of Illinois. Countryside Extension Center.

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