Weight Management

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Achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight not only has a positive impact on physical health but can also improve energy, general mood, and self-confidence.

Take the time to implement proper nutrition and physical activity as part of your lifestyle to promote healthy and successful weight loss. While it is natural to want to lose weight quickly, evidence shows that people who lose weight gradually and steadily (1-2 pounds per week) are more successful at keeping it off. If you are thinking about losing weight, consider first assessing your weight with this Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator, a measure of body fat, while also noting its limitations.

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    Columbia University Resources

    Get involved with these Columbia weight management programs.

    The Weight Control Center (WCC) addresses the need for patients to have their weight issues managed compassionately and accurately based on evidenced based medicine. The WCC offers individual nutrition appointments with a Registered Dietitian as well as the Weight Control in 12-Weeks Group Program, interactive, registered dietician-led weight management groups that focus on making long-term changes for a healthier lifestyle.

    To learn more or schedule an appointment, contact The Weight Control Center at 212-305-5568. 

    Wellness Coaching is a healthy lifestyle program available to Columbia University medical plan participants and dependents at no additional cost.  Work with a wellness coach telephonically with additional web based support to help you eat better, move more and lose weight.   

    To learn more or to enroll call United Healthcare at 800-232-9357 or visit this website.

    RALLY is an engaging digital health experience that starts with a quick Health Survey to measure your overall health and then recommends simple activities to help improve your diet, fitness, and mood- and can support weight loss. 

    Rally is available through www.myuhc.com or visit www.columbia.werally.com .

    For more information or to learn if you are eligible, call United Healthcare at 800-232-9357. 

    Work with a Registered Dietitian. Columbia University employees and dependents covered under the university’s medical plan may be eligible for coverage for nutrition counseling with a Registered Dietitian.

    For more information or to learn if you are eligible, call United Healthcare at 800-232-9357.

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    Weight Management Tips

    Follow these useful suggestions to help you achieve your weight management goals.

    Fill half your plate with naturally low-calorie and nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. Focus on whole fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables over dried or canned varieties and juices. The water in fruits and vegetables will add volume to your dishes so you can eat the same amount of food with fewer calories. Follow our EAT 5 goal of 5 cups daily {2 cups fruit, 3 cups vegetables} or consider adding 1 cup of fruit and/or vegetables at each meal and snack.

    Calories in drinks are not hidden (they're listed right on the Nutrition Facts label), but many people don't realize just how many calories beverages can contribute to their daily intake. Calories from drinks can really add up, but there is good news: you have plenty of options for reducing the number of calories in what you drink.  

    Including breakfast as part of the daily morning routine is associated with attaining and maintaining weight loss, which can be due to better blood sugar control and preventing overeating later in the day.  Some healthy breakfast ideas include:

    • Whole grain cereal with lowfat milk and banana slices
    • Whole grain English muffin with hardboiled eggs and apple slices
    • Oatmeal with strawberries, chopped walnuts, and cinnamon

    Choosing lower-calorie and nutrient-dense snacks can help maintain energy in between meals, provide essential nutrients, and may prevent overeating at mealtime.  Some smart snack ideas include:

    • Baby carrots and hummus
    • An apple and tablespoon of peanut butter
    • Berries and unsweetened yogurt

    While it is important to get your calories, or energy, from nutrient-dense sources (i.e., fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, nuts, and seeds), eating too many calories can contribute to weight gain. Cutting excess calories from your diet can enable weight loss.  Find some examples to cut calories while maintaining or enhancing nutrient intake.


    Pay attention to serving sizes on nutrition labels and set an intention to eat appropriate portion sizes in all settings.  When dining at home, use smaller plates and bowls to prevent over eating.  When eating snacks from large containers, measure out a one-serving portion in a bowl rather than eating straight out of the package.  When visiting a restaurant, consider ordering an appetizer potion rather than an entrée size or ask the wait person for a “to-go” box and wrap up half your meal as soon as it is brought to the table.

    Bring your full awareness to your meal or snack—pay attention to the taste, flavor, texture, and smell.  Slow down by taking small bites, chewing slowly, and putting your fork down between bites.

    People who have lost weight and kept it off typically engage in 60—90 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity most days of the week, while not exceeding calorie needs. This doesn't necessarily mean 60—90 minutes at one time. It might mean 20—30 minutes of physical activity three times a day. For example, take a brisk walk in the morning, at lunch time, and in the evening.

    Keeping a food diary and monitoring your weight regularly can help you track your progress and spot trends. For example, you might notice that your weight creeps up when you have to work overtime and might be due to visiting the vending machine. Recognizing this tendency can be a signal to try different behaviors, such as packing your own healthful office snacks.

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    External Resources

    Looking for more? Here are resources outside of Columbia.

    Visit the CDC’s Healthy Weight page to learn how to assess your weight and make lifestyle changes to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

    Read articles and tips about effective weight loss, tips for dining out, the truth about fad diets, and more from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

    Evaluate existing weight-loss programs and identify one that is safe, effective, and can support long-term success.

    Find a community Weight Watchers group offered near you here.

    Engage children with We Can!, a national movement designed to give parents, caregivers and entire communities a way to help children ages 8-13 years old to stay a healthy weight—guidance is provided to help families to eat better, move more, and reduce screen time.