There is a huge percentage of Americans that are severely overweight and this condition affects overall health and life expectancy. Many people want to lose weight or learn how to eat healthier but are unsure where to turn. There are numerous for-profit programs that are too expensive for many people. The Aim for a Healthy Weight program is free of charge and has many online resources available.
OVERWEIGHT VS OBESITY
The definition of being overweight as opposed to being obese is based on a BMI score. BMI stands for Body Mass Index. This score is determined by your height and weight. It is an estimate of body fat and is a good indication of disease risk. Higher BMIs are associated with more disease risks such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, breathing issues, and certain cancers. A BMI between 25.0 and 29.9 indicates overweight status. A BMI of 30.0 and above indicates obesity status. There are many other factors that affect BMI and it is not an exact science. It can misjudge body fat in athletes with a muscular build by giving a higher BMI score. It can do the same in older people who have lost muscle by giving a lower BMI score.
AIM FOR A HEALTHY WEIGHT PROGRAM
This program, which was initiated by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has a lot of online resources.
In very simple terms, it explains that when you take in and use up the same amount of energy, your weight stays the same. When you use up more energy than you take in, you lose weight. When you take in more energy than you use up, you gain weight. The energy taken in is calories and the energy being used up is movement/exercise. It is a simplified explanation, but it is 100% true and can help people who are overweight or obese start a plan of using up more energy than they are taking in. Taking small steps in the right direction can help many people.
The NHLBI website includes an area where you can figure out your weight and health risk. It then goes on to include tips for controlling weight. There are publications that you can order or print out, which, by themselves, are a weight loss program. It does give tips on finding pay for services weight loss program, which many people may not be able to afford. Some health insurance does pay for a portion of these weight loss programs, but there are some out of pocket costs. The online resources are a free option for those who cannot afford a paid weight loss program.
Since a huge piece of weight loss is the mental/behavioral piece, this site also gives pointers on changing the overeating and non-healthy eating behaviors. Under the Eat Right tab, there are resources for a healthy eating plan, menu plans, food exchange lists, shopping tips, portion distortion, recipes, daily food, activity diaries, and tips for healthy eating on the go or at home. These are all things that you would get from a more expensive program and they are free.
RESOURCES FOR CHILDREN
There is a program called EatPlayGrow that is specifically designed for 2-5-year-olds. We Can! And Let’s Move! are also programs that are designed for children, which are for utilization by faith-based and community groups. There are also family recipe cards, which are actually recipe cards that can be printed out and made by the family. Children LOVE to help cook so this is a great way to get the whole family involved in healthy eating.