Definitions, Terminology, and Measurement

  • Sharron DaltonEmail author
Part of the Nutrition and Health book series (NH)


Weight management is the practice of aiming for and achieving a healthy body weight, a major tool in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases. An expanded definition determines the line between a healthy and unhealthy weight considering absence of disease, body size and shape, and physical and psychological ability to function. The definition of body weight standards is important to health professionals in planning and providing guidance for lifestyle choices about food, eating, physical activity, and using weight-related products and services as are mind-body influences, natural healing power, and cultural beliefs and preferences. Many terms, “obesity,” “overweight,” “fat,” and “big,” are used by health professionals and the media.

Is obesity a disease? Since 2002, many key agencies have changed their position on the question which involves discussions of the cost, cost-effectiveness, and safety of interventions employed in weight management; questions remain about public perception and the role of personal and collective responsibility for prevention and treatment.

Standard definitions based on body mass index (BMI) do not distinguish between body fat and other body tissues (muscle, bone, water). BMI is used by government and international health organizations to establish weight standards for given heights. Measurements of waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, skinfold thickness, and bioelectrical impedance are useful in clinics and community settings to determine percentage of weight that is body fat.

Weight management intervention includes physical and psychological screening, dietary assessment, intensive behavioral therapy, and monitoring weight-loss maintenance. Measurable indicators of effectiveness include improved quality of life with increased functional and physical activity, qualitative changes in food consumption, and overall health regardless of body size.


Healthy weight Obesity as disease Weight-/fat-related measurements Weight management intervention Weight intervention effectiveness Weight as individual or environmental responsibility 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public HealthNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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