Heart-Healthy Living
Heart-Healthy Living

Heart-Healthy Living Aim for a Healthy Weight

A healthy weight for adults is generally a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9. The online BMI calculator will help you measure your BMI. Download the BMI calculator app for iPhone and Android.

BMI chart
The chart shows body mass index measurements that help determine if you are at a healthy weight.

Always talk to your healthcare provider about what your BMI means for you. Talk to your child’s provider to determine if they have a healthy weight, because their BMI should be compared to growth charts specific to age and sex.

Following a heart-healthy eating plan and being physically active are some ways to help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

NHLBI’s Aim for a Healthy Weight program has more information about these topics.

Health risks of overweight or obesity

The more body fat that you have and the more you weigh, the more likely you are to develop heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems, and certain cancers.

Learn more about the impacts of overweight and obesity on your heart health.

Measuring waist circumference

If most of your fat is around your waist rather than at your hips, you are at a higher risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. A waist circumference of more than 35 inches for women or more than 40 inches for men increases your risk.

To correctly measure your waist circumference, stand and place a tape measure around your middle, just above your hipbones. Measure your waist just after you breathe out.

Benefits of maintaining a healthy weight

If you have been diagnosed with overweight or obesity, it’s important to follow your provider’s recommendations for losing weight. Health professionals recommend losing 5% to 10% of your initial weight over the course of about 6 months. Even before you reach this goal, a loss of just 3% to 5% of your current weight can lower triglycerides and glucose levels in your blood, as well as your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Losing more than 3% to 5% of your weight can improve blood pressure readings, lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, and increase “good” HDL cholesterol.

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