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How Extra Weight Affects Your Health

Reaching a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do for your health. Shedding extra pounds can greatly lower your risk of many health conditions. It can also boost your mood, energy, and overall well-being.

So, how do you know if you’re at a healthy weight? One way to help you figure this out is to calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI). Your BMI is a calculation based on your height and weight. There are many online tools you can use to help you figure out what your BMI is. You can also ask your doctor to help you understand your BMI.  

Do you have a healthy BMI? 

For most adults, a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered healthy. A BMI of 25 or higher may mean that you are carrying extra weight. Research shows that adults with a BMI of 25 or higher are more likely to have serious health problems. This is because the extra weight can put a lot of stress on all parts of your body.  

However, adults that are 65 or older may want to have a slightly higher BMI to help protect against thinning bones.  

Just keep in mind that your BMI may not be a good gauge if you are very muscular. Muscle weighs more than fat, so your BMI number may be high even though you don’t have much body fat. Check with your doctor if you have any concerns about your BMI.  

Heart disease and high blood pressure

The American Heart Association reports that carrying extra weight raises your risk of a heart attack or death due to heart disease. It also raises your risk for high blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart disease, hardened arteries, heart attack, and kidney disease.  

Extra weight can also lead to high cholesterol. This can raise your risk of heart disease and heart attack. However, losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can help lower your total cholesterol.   

Other health concerns  

Stroke is another health issue that is tied to being overweight. Studies show that stroke is a risk for both men and women with high BMIs, no matter their age. Even people with normal blood pressure may be at a higher risk of stroke if they carry extra weight.  

Carrying too much weight is also a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Around 85 percent of people with this disease are overweight. If it is not managed, diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. It can also cause blindness and nerve damage. For women, it can cause serious problems during pregnancy. The good news is that just a 5 to 10 percent drop in body weight can help lower high blood sugar and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Losing weight can improve your health even if you already have diabetes. 

Carrying extra weight may play a role in other health issues, too. Gallstones and sleep apnea are two examples. Extra weight can also raise the risk of developing painful joints, low back pain, and arthritis  

The benefits of a healthy weight 

While extra weight can lead to many health problems, there is good news! If your BMI is over 25, losing 10 percent of your body weight can boost your health in many ways. Shedding extra pounds can bring you a host of benefits, such as:  

  • Lower risk of obesity-related diseases and health problems 
  • More energy to do what you enjoy 
  • Less pain and discomfort 
  • Ability to stay independent longer 
  • Ability to do daily activities with ease 
  • A better quality of life 
  • A greater sense of overall well-being 

If you are unsure where to start, talk to your doctor about ways to reach a healthy weight. He or she can help you create an action plan that’s right for you and your health goals.  

View Credits
Primary Author: Amanda Cavallari, MA
Clinical Reviewer: Elizabeth Thompson, MPH, RD
Final Review and Approval by Elizabeth Thompson, MPH, RD
--> Date of Annual Review:12/28/2022
Healthyroads' Editorial Staff follow a quality assurance process to help promote each article’s accuracy:
  • A health expert provides input on topic.
  • Scientific evidence from widely accepted health texts, peer-reviewed journals, and other reliable sources is consulted.
  • Final article is reviewed and approved by a health professional.
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