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Step up to a Healthier You with the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit

Physical Activity

Healthy Weights

In today’s society, many people struggle with their weight. The Heart and Stroke Foundation has estimated that 60% of Canadian adults are overweight. According to the 2004 Chief Medical Officer of Health Report, Healthy Weights, Healthy Lives, between 55.35% and 57.54% of Haldimand-Norfolk adults ages 20-64 are overweight and obese. This greatly contributes to the rates of various chronic diseases, especially heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.Being overweight can also contribute to an increased risk of gall bladder disease, osteoarthritis, and cancers of the colon, breast and prostate.

Key Messages

In 2007, the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit developed a number of key messages related to healthy weights. These messages are based on evidence and talk about a positive, health-focused approach to body weight and lifestyle choices. The messages contain the three elements of healthy eating, physical activity and self-esteem as important parts for achieving and maintaining health and a healthy weight. The Health Unit’s key messages fall into the following categories: Eat Well, Be Active and Accept Yourself and Others.

Eat Well

  • Follow Canada’s Food Guide by eating the recommended amount and type of food each day.
  • Enjoy a variety of foods from the four food groups of Canada’s Food Guide.
  • Eat vegetables and fruit at all meals and as snacks.
  • Eat regularly throughout the day, starting with breakfast.
  • Eat together as a family whenever possible.
  • Dieting doesn’t work. Eating well, being active and feeling good about yourself are important steps towards better health and a healthy body weight.

Be Active

  • Follow Canada’s Physical Activity Guide to Healthy Active Living and be active everyday.
  • Build activity into your daily routine.
  • Choose activities that you enjoy.
  • Physical activity can be fun for the whole family.
  • Limit screen time and sitting for long periods of time.

Accept Yourself and Others

  • Healthy people come in a variety of weights, shapes and sizes.
  • Appreciate the positive qualities in yourself and others.

Health and well-being are linked to self-esteem and a healthy body image. People who feel good about themselves and their bodies are more likely to have a healthy self-esteem and adopt healthy lifestyle attitudes and behaviours. Changing the focus from society’s obsession with body shape and size to healthy lifestyle gives power to people to make healthy choices and urges social acceptance of a wider range of healthy weights and body size.

Weight is not an absolute indicator of health. A thin person is not necessarily healthy and an overweight person is not necessarily unhealthy.

There are a number of factors that can affect a person’s weight:

  • Diet
  • Physical activity level
  • Genetics
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Psychological factors
  • Medications
  • Illnesses

Some of these factors – genetics, gender and age - we can not change. We cannot become what we are not. However, everyone can improve his or her physical and mental health by following a healthy eating and active lifestyle.

Assessing Your Weight

Yearly check-ups with your doctor usually include measuring your height and weight to calculate your Body Mass Index [BMI]. BMI is used for people ages 18 through 65, except if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or very muscular.

The calculation for Body Mass Index is:
BMI = weight (kg)/ height (m)2
The result of this BMI calculation is then used to determine your risk of developing health problems. Your doctor should discuss results with you and offer help to decrease your risk.

BMI gives a better indication of health risk when considered with Waist Circumference [WC], another important measurement for health risk. WC takes into consideration the amount of abdominal fat a person carries. Excess weight around the abdomen increases risk for health problems. Talk to your doctor about having a Waist Circumference measurement done as part of your yearly check-up.

Health Risk Classification Table According to Body Mass Index (BMI)

BMI Category
Classification Risk of developing health problems
<18.5 Underweight Increased Risk
18.5-24.9 Normal Weight Least Risk
25.0-29.9 Overweight Increased Risk
30 and over Obese  
30.0-34.9 Class I High Risk
35.0-39.9 Class II Very High Risk
>40.0 Class III Extremely High Risk

Adapted from CMOH report pg.12


Health risk classification according to Body Mass Index (BMI) and Waist Circumference (WC)

Circumference (WC)
Body Mass Index (BMI)
Normal Weight
Obese Class I
<102 cm (males)
<88 cm (females)
Least Risk Increased Risk High Risk
≥102 cm (males)
≥88 cm (females)
Increased Risk High Risk Very High Risk

Adapted from CMOH report pg.16


If you are concerned about your weight, it is best to consult with your physician or a health care professional for a complete assessment that includes your individual circumstances and lifestyle factors.

Take Home Message...

Take the focus off weight. Enjoy a variety of healthy foods and incorporate various different physical activities into your everyday schedule. You will be well on your way to achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight.