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Maintaining a Healthy Weight

Being over or underweight can cause problems for your health. Maintaining a healthy weight means balancing the energy (calories) you take in with those you use up.

Being over-weight

Obesity is becoming more common in people living with HIV; this is usually the result of eating too much and not doing enough exercise.

Being overweight can shorten life expectancy and cause a number of health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease and increase your risk of developing certain cancers.

Obesity is treated by losing weight, which will usually involves healthy, calorie-controlled eating and increasing the amount of exercise you do. The Food Chain offer practical cookery and nutrition classes which are free and open to anyone living with HIV in London.

Check out our ten steps to help you lose weight

Being under-weight

Whilst antiretroviral drugs usually improve body weight, weight loss can still be a very serious problem for people living with HIV, especially if you have a low CD4 cell count (below 200).

Being underweight can weaken your immune system, cause bone problems and cause you to lack energy. Losing too much weight can be dangerous as it reduces your ability to fight infection and recover quickly from illness.

Your energy requirements are likely to be greater when you are sick but it can be difficult eat enough when you are ill if you have lost your appetite.

Unintended weight loss loose clothes etc should always be taken seriously. Weight loss can be a warning sign of the presence of an infection, or another condition. It is important to seek early advice from your doctor or HIV dietitian who can work with you to regain your appetite. Losing just 3% of your body weight can significantly increase your chances of becoming ill because of HIV.

Check out our ten steps to achieving a healthy weight

Tips to help maintain a healthy body weight