Maintain a healthy weight

What is a healthy weight?

A healthy body weight looks different for everyone depending on factors such as their height, weight, muscle mass, sleeping patterns, and cultural backgrounds. A healthy weight can be maintained with healthy eating and regular physical activity. Restrictive diets (a type of diet that limits food intake to certain foods or food groups or to a certain number of calories) are not necessary.

How is a healthy weight measured?

Health weight is usually determined by your Body Mass Index (BMI) and waist circumference.

BMI is a measure of body fat. It is calculated using your height and weight. A higher BMI means more body fat. The higher the BMI, the higher your risk for certain diseases. However, there are limitations of BMI that you need to know about. It doesn’t distinguish between excess fat, muscle, or bone mass, and it doesn’t look at differences in fat between people. For example, a muscular person or athlete may have a high BMI due to increased muscle mass. 

BMI Calculator

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For adults aged 18 and above: 

  • A BMI below 18.5 is considered underweight
  • A BMI 18.5-24.9 is considered a normal weight
  • A BMI 25.0-29.9 is considered overweight
  • A BMI 30.0 and above is considered obese

Another way to see if you have a healthy weight is to measure your waist circumference. Having excess weight around the waist can put you at more risk for developing obesity-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, and cancer. This is true even if you are at a healthy weight.

What are the benefits of a healthy weight?

The benefits of being a healthy weight extend far beyond what your body looks like. A healthy weight in combination with sleeping well, eating healthy, and moving more has positive effects on overall health. Weight can affect a person’s social and mental well-being along with their physical health.

A healthy weight can reduce your risk of:

  • type 2 diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • arthritis
  • gall bladder disease
  • sleep apnea and other breathing problems
  • mental health problems, such as depression
  • a variety of cancers

Which cancers can be prevented?

A healthy weight can reduce the risk of a variety of cancers by:

  • maintaining healthy hormone levels
  • reducing chronic inflammation [slow, long-term inflammation in the body lasting for several months to years]
  • preventing gallstones
  • maintaining good insulin levels in the body

More than 50% of Canadian adults have excess weight. Evidence suggests that excess fat can cause esophageal, pancreatic, liver, colon, rectum, breast, endometrial, gallbladder, and kidney cancers. As an example, we could prevent around 650 cancer cases in 2038 if all Manitobans maintain a healthy weight , starting today.

What can I do to maintain a healthy weight?

To help protect against cancer and other chronic diseases: 

  • ensure that body weight during childhood and youth is in the healthy range
  • avoid weight gain throughout adulthood

To maintain a healthy weight, the amount of energy or calories you gain from food and drinks should be balanced with the energy your body uses for activities like breathing, moving, and being physically active. This balance doesn’t have to be achieved every day as it’s a balance over time that helps you maintain a healthy weight.

How can I maintain a healthy weight?

Maintaining your weight does not have to mean changing your life completely. Take small steps, make realistic goals, and build from there. Here are some ways to maintain a healthy weight:

  • make small lifestyle changes that you can sustain, such as eating unhealthy foods less often
  • understand food labelling to help you recognize healthy nutrients in some of your food
  • start with short and easy activities and gradually increase your physical activity; any physical activity is better than none
  • engage in at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity each week
  • eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, beans and lentils
  • limit fast foods, highly processed foods, sugar-sweetened drinks and red meat
  • avoid fad diets [a diet that becomes popular for a short time without standard dietary recommendations]. These may help you lose weight quickly as they involve avoiding certain types of foods, but the effects don’t last once you return to eating your usual diet.

Here are some more programs and resources to help you maintain a healthy weight. 

Programs and Services

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