Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Obesity and Weight Management

Target weight for a former couch potato

01/28/2008

Question:

I`m a 53 year-old male who just retired. On 1-1-07 I weighed 262 lbs and finally decided to reduce my weight for health maintanence..I haven`t seen a doctor for a long time, but I did get my blood sugar and pressure checked at a free screening at a local mall and they said that I had hypertension and that I was boarderline diabetic....This sort of scared me, so I went on weight-watchers and started walking 5 days/week and I`m now up to 4 miles per day and down to about 180 lbs. BP is now ok and so is blood sugar ( I got a BP cuff and glucometer from Ebay)....I`m only 5`8" and still feel quite overweight; the BMI chart says that I have to get down to about 150 lbs to be in the middle of the "ideal" range. I have some "love handle" flab and was wondering if this is probably just excess skin or if excercise targeting that area would help? Also, is 150lbs really about right for a male 5`8"? I made the weight-watchers thing a lifestyle change so I plan on doing it forever, but losing 30 more lbs seems difficult, but I want to do it because men in my family die young (mostly from colon cancer, not heart or obesity related stuff)... I guess that I should get a physical exam (last one about 10 years ago and I weighed 180 lbs, but sort of dislike that idea). Should I shoot for the 150lbs as the BMI chart says? Thanks

Answer:

First, congratulations on making lifestyle changes and maintaining a healthier weight. You already have much more energy, feel positive, and your blood pressure and blood sugar are down. At 5'8", the highest weight for your BMI to be within a normal range (19-24.9) is 158lbs. At 180lbs, your BMI is approximately 28, which is in the overweight range. While this may be concerning, what you should focus on is how you maintain these lifestyle behaviors and continue to improve your health indices like BP, fitness, and cardiovascular profile, rather than a number.

We have long known that healthy lifestyle behaviors, like physical activity, even without weight loss, improve your overall health. Although BMI is a pretty good predictor of certain health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, it is not a simple relationship. Recently, a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study found a lower risk of death for individuals who were a little overweight. The full implication of this study is still being debated, but clearly it shows that body mass index alone does not explain the whole picture.

My recommendation is that you continue the changes you have made and meet with a reliable certified athletic trainer to help you work out an exercise program that varies in intensity and builds fitness, rather than only aerobic exercise. After ten years, it is definitely time to make an appointment to see your physician for a full physical exam and some guidance on your health.

For more information:

Go to the Obesity and Weight Management health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Ihuoma U Eneli, MD Ihuoma U Eneli, MD
Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics
Medical Director of the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University