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How to Reduce Obesity in Adults

By Janet Renee, MS, RD ; Updated July 18, 2017

If you're struggling with obesity, you're not alone. According to a 2012 survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, 33 percent of men and 36 percent of women were obese. While obesity affects how you look and feel, this doesn't need to be permanent. Take steps to eat healthily and get more activity, to make an impact on your health in only a few weeks, to help you achieve a healthy weight through slow, steady weight loss.

Calculate How Much You Need to Lose

A healthy BMI for men and women is 18.5 to 24.9. Before you can reduce your weight, you need to know what your target range is. If you're 5 feet 5 inches and weigh 190 pounds, you have a BMI of 31.6, for example.

In this instance, 112 to 149 pounds is considered a healthy weight range. Losing around 40 pounds would put you within healthier range for your height.

Use an online calculator get your your BMI, based on your weight and height. Keep in mind, though, that several factors -- including your frame size, lean mass ratio, height and general health influence -- influence what counts as a "healthy" weight. BMI is one piece of the puzzle, but it's not the only factor you should consider to figure out your health -- look at your strength and fitness levels, as well as the quality of your diet, in addition to BMI.

Improve Your Eating Habits

A vital aspect of weight loss is improving your eating habits. A major part of that is identifying healthy foods and for you to prepare your meals at home. Give your kitchen a diet makeover by ditching "junk" foods and stocking up on healthy staples. Pick up lots of fresh fruits and vegetables from your local grocer, along with lean protein like soy, chicken breast, 95 percent lean ground beef, low-fat yogurt, fish and ground turkey. Nuts and seeds, while high in energy, are great for snacking -- just remember that a handful goes a long way.

Once you've stocked up on nutrient-dense foods, familiarize yourself with healthy portion sizes. Over-sized portions play a role in overweight and obesity, so it's crucial that you shrink your meals. A good way to do this is to create a portion size cheat sheet and keep it on the fridge for quick reference. The hand method uses your first finger, thumb, and palm to represent portion sizes and provides an easy to way to remember portions.

The size of your palm represents a 3-ounce serving of meat, fish or poultry. When you snack on nuts, seeds or raisins, take a small handful for a roughly 1-ounce serving size. A 1-cup serving -- the amount recommended for fruits, veggies and some whole grains -- is roughly the size of your fist. Keep your servings of fat-rich foods --- like cheese and nut butters -- small, or about the size of the top of your thumb.

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Get More Exercise to Reduce Your Weight

Physical activity plays a pivotal role in burning off excess calories. Getting more activity increases your calorie burn, so you'll tap into your fat stores and lose weight. You'll need at least 250 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise to lose weight, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, along with two to three strength training workouts weekly. As you get closer to your goal weight, you can reduce that to 150 to 250 minutes weekly.

Start slowly to avoid becoming overwhelmed of discouraged. You don't have to become a gym rat to lose weight. If you work in an office, take the stairs when possible, and get up throughout the day and take short walk breaks. When you have errands that are a short distance walk instead of driving. Try joining a water aerobics class, especially if you have mobility or joint issues -- exercising in water is more gentle on your joints, something people with excess weight can benefit from. Whatever you choose, check with your doctor beforehand to ensure that regular exercise is safe for you.

Tips to Reduce Obesity

Treating weight loss like a solo venture can make your journey more difficult, so try joining a local weight loss group in your town and gain support from others who have the same weight loss goals as you. If you can't find weight loss support groups in your area, try an online support community.

Keep a food journal to monitor what you're eating and how much you're eating. This allows you to spot unhealthy eating patterns, so you can adjust your lifestyle to help with weight loss. People who keep regular food records lose more weight than those who don't, according to a study the American Journal of Preventative Medicine published in August 2008.

Track your progress to keep yourself motivated and on-track with your weight loss goals. Remember, your body is composed of lean mass and fat, so it's best to shop for a scale that calculates not only your total weight, but your body fat percentage as well. This way, as you exercise and increase your lean mass you're able to track the decrease in body fat, which is a better way to gauge results than using only your weight measurement.

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