Our society is preoccupied by weight. This is due in part to ideal images of female and male physiques portrayed in advertising. For most people, these ideals are unrealistic and unhealthy.
The main reason such ideals are unrealistic is that, genetically, we seem to have a natural weight range that our bodies prefer to be in. To maintain this weight range, internal cues help to regulate our food intake. Many people have become out of touch with these internal cues for many reasons, including:
- being encouraged to clean the plate as a child
- eating erratically with long periods between meals
- eating too quickly
- eating while reading, watching TV, or driving
- eating for emotional reasons or to relieve stress
How can you know if you are within your natural and healthy weight range? The body mass index (BMI) is a good way to see if you have a healthy weight. There are many BMI calculators available on the internet. Men and women between the ages of 20 and 65 can use the BMI. However, it doesn't apply to pregnant or breast-feeding women, very muscular people, or endurance athletes. With BMI, there is a wide range of weight that is considered healthy for a given height. That's because healthy bodies come in many shapes and sizes.
The BMI scores or results will let a person know if excess weight is putting him or her at risk of health problems. A score of 18.5 to 24.9 indicates a healthy BMI and less chance of developing health problems. A score under 18.5 signifies that the person may be more likely to develop certain health problems, including anemia, osteoporosis, and irregular heart rhythms. Someone with a score of 25 or higher may be at a higher risk of weight-related health problems. These problems can include heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. A person with a BMI under 18.5 or over 24.9 would be wise to consider changes towards a healthier lifestyle.
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