January 2016

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Online Weight Management Gets Personal

NIH Body Weight Planner

It’s always a good time to resolve to eat better, be more active, and lose weight. For the more than 2 out of 3 Americans who are either overweight or obese, there’s now a free, research-based tool to help you reach your goals: the NIH Body Weight Planner.  

“A lot of people want to change their lifestyle to lose weight and improve their overall health but really don’t know what it takes,” says Dr. Kevin Hall, a senior NIH researcher who created the Planner. “The Body Weight Planner is the first tool of its kind. It uses specific information about the diet and physical activity changes that are needed to help people reach and stay at their goal weight over time.”

Keeping your body at a healthy weight may help you lower your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer that can result from being overweight or obese.

To use the NIH Body Weight Planner, just enter your weight, sex, age, height, and physical activities during work and leisure. Then enter a target date for reaching your goal weight. You can also add details like percent body fat and metabolic rate. The Planner will then calculate your personal calorie and physical activity targets to achieve your goal and maintain it over time.

“In the past, people have relied on simple rules of thumb, such as cutting 500 calories per day to lose 1 pound of body weight per week,” Hall says. “It turns out that this rule overestimates how much weight people actually lose.” The NIH Body Weight Planner uses technology based on years of scientific research to accurately calculate how your body adjusts to changes in your eating habits and physical activity.

NIH recently partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to add the NIH Planner to the USDA SuperTracker food and activity tool.

The NIH Body Weight Planner “has changed my life,” says one user. “At 280 pounds, I decided to make a change. I used the Body Weight Planner and set a goal to reach 220 pounds in 180 days. I tracked my calories, dropped weight, and hit the 220 goal. My doctor was really happy.”

Hall says the Body Weight Planner is compatible with most Web and mobile browsers. NIH is also working to develop mobile apps for tracking your body weight and physical activity, and for assessing how well you stick to your plan over time. This will help you change your plan or goals as needed.

Try the NIH Body Weight Planner to take charge of your weight and your health. Be sure to talk with your health care provider about setting realistic and healthy weight goals.