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Weight Management

How do I know my body weight status?

You can assess your body weight using the Body Mass Index (BMI). The BMI can tell you whether you have a high or low risk of developing health problems. The BMI is a formula to assess your body weight relative to height. It is a useful, indirect measure of body composition because it correlates highly with body fat in most people. Your BMI is calculated as weight divided by height squared where

BMI = Weight ( in kilograms )
Height (in metres) x Height ( in metres )

If your BMI (kg/m2) is :
You are
18.5 or less Underweight
18.5 – 24.9 Normal
25 – 30 Overweight
30 or more obese

What is a normal body weight?

Your If your BMI is between 18.5 to less than 25, than you have a normal body weight. For example, a female who is 1.5 metres tall and weighing 53 kg would have a BMI of :

53/(1.5 x 1.5) = 23.5 kg/m2

( Normal Body Weight)

Why is it important to maintain a normal body weight?

Body weight is a major influence of health throughout life. Maintaining a normal body weight can lower your risks for many conditions. Obese and overweight people are more prone to illnesses and conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases, gall bladder diseases and osteoarthritis. Obesity may influence the risk of cancers of the colon, rectum, prostate, gall bladder, cervix, endometrium and ovary. Obesity also affects mobility, physical endurance and other functional measures. Obese people may also have low self esteem.

How to calculate your normal body weight?

If you are female and is 1.6m tall, your normal body weight is:-

(18.5-24.9) 1.6 x 1.6 = 47.4kg to 63.7kg

How Do I Maintain A Normal Body Weight?

Healthy and practical tips to maintain healthy body weight :

  • Maintain your weight within healthy BMI range of 18.5 kg/m2 and 24.9 kg/m2.
  • Choose a healthy eating plan that includes a variety of food based on Malaysian Food Pyramid.
  • Be active everyday. People who keep physically active are more successful at maintaining body weight. A physically active lifestyle offers many rewards in addition to weight management, such as healthy heart, strong bones, and stress relief. For weight management, you are recommended to do moderate exercise for a total of 30 minutes a day on most days (4-5 times a week). Shorter durations are acceptable, but try to accumulate at least 30 minutes a day.

What is underweight?

You are underweight if you have a Body Mass Index (BMI) less than 18.5 kg/m2.

What causes underweight

Underweight is a condition when energy intake is less than energy expenditure. Other disorders that can cause underweight include:

  • Anorexia nervosa or bulimia
  • Underlying medical problems

How to gain weight healthily?

Healthy and practical tips to gain weight :

  • Plan ahead for extra meals
    The key to gaining weight is to take in more calories than you need. This means that you may need to eat more food.
  • Smart snacking
    Smart snacking plays an important role in gaining weight. In addition to larger meals, snacks are usually necessary to adequately increase the energy intake. Choose snacks that add calories, vitamins and minerals. For example add cheese or peanut butter to cream crackers.
  • Choose foods high in calories
    Take high energy diet for weight gain. Choose foods or menu according to the Malaysian Food Pyramid and allow extra portions, for example an extra plate of rice. An underweight person must be frequently encouraged to eat, even when not hungry.
  • Avoid skipping meals
    Main meals such as breakfast, lunch and dinner should not be missed and healthy snacks are encouraged.
  • How do you start
    Begin by choosing calorie-rich foods from each group of the Food Pyramid. Fats, oils and sweets should be taken in moderation. Incorporating extra calories into everyday meals can make eating a creative and flavorful experience. For example choose high calories beverages, add cheese and salad dressings to sandwiches.
  • Aim for gradual weight gain
  • Check your daily energy requirement to determine how much energy you need to increase weight.

(Refer to guideline to calculate daily energy requirement). Refer to sample menu depending on your calorie.

What is overweight?

You are overweight if you have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25.0kg/m2 to less than 30.0kg/m2.

What is obesity?

Obesity results when the energy intake is more than what you need. You are obese if you have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30.0 kg/m2 or greater.

What causes overweight and obesity?

Overweight and obesity are consequence of an energy imbalance where energy intake has exceeded energy expenditure over a considerable period of time. Consumption of food which is high in fat and energy together with the reduction in the level of physical activity are major contributing factors to overweight and obesity.

Other disorders can also cause obesity. These include:

  • Drug treatment
  • Disease states such as hypothyroidism, Cushing’s Disease and hypothalamic tumors.
  • Major reduction in activity ( retired athletes )
  • Hormonal imbalance

What are the health risks associated with obesity?

Several conditions associated with obesity are :

  • Cardiovascular disease (CVD) and hypertension. The CVD risks associated with obesity are more acute in younger adults. It is also higher in people with abdominal obesity.
  • Hypertension and stroke. Overweight young adults (aged 20-44 years) have 5.6 times higher incidence of hypertension than those with normal weight. Older obese individuals are at even greater risk.
  • Diabetes. Especially among adult with abdominal obesity.

Waist circumference > 90cm in men

Waist circumference > 80cm in women

  • Cancer. A number of studies have found a positive association between overweight and the incidence of cancer, particularly those cancers which are hormone-dependent such as cancer of the breast, cervix, uterus, ovaries and prostate.
  • Endocrine problems. Irregular menstrual cycles, other menstrual problems and pregnancy complications, especially toxemia and hypertension.
  • Gall bladder disease. Obesity is a risk factor for gallstones in all age groups in both men and women. The risk is even greater when excess fat is located around the abdomen.
  • Pulmonary disease. The work of breathing is increased in obese persons. This is mainly due to the extreme stiffness of the thoracic cage resulting from accumulation of fat in and around the ribs, abdomen and diaphragm.
  • Arthritis. Obese persons are at higher risk of developing gout arthritis, a distressing painful disorder. Excess weight stresses vulnerable joints, in particular the back and knee. This eventually may cause osteoarthritis to develop.

How to lose weight?

  • Consult a doctor to identify and correct any underlying medical, biological, or physiological problems contributing to excess weight.
  • Consult a nutritionist or dietician at the nearest clinic or hospital on how to achieve a healthy weight loss.
  • Check your daily energy requirement to ensure how much energy you need to lose weight.
    • Use the calculation – (refer to guideline to calculate daily energy requirement).
    • Refer to sample menu depending on your calorie
  • Low restricted calories are not advisable if you are starving. If you do, you will tend to eat more later.
  • Eat normal, reasonable, moderate amounts of nutritious foods based on the Malaysian Food Pyramid. Take more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Do not cut out carbohydrates and fats completely as this results in craving. Your body needs the nutrients found in fats and carbohydrates.
  • Most important: Exercise consistently. Start with a few minutes of walking and slowly extend the time until you can do 45-60 minutes everyday. If you have not exercised in a while, be sure to check with your doctor first.
  • Find a good buddy. Friends and family are great buddies to support on losing weight; so are support groups.
  • Remember: Healthy, realistic weight loss takes time. Losing 1/2 kg a week may not be encouraging, but if you go any faster, you will make yourself hungry and hunger will eventually make you eat more.


Last reviewed : 20 April 2012
Writer : Surainee bt. Wahab


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