After Your Cancer Treatment: maintain a healthy body weight

Body Mass Index

A healthy body weight may reduce the risk of kidney, endometrial, bowel and breast cancers. Maintaining a healthy body weight is especially important for improving survival for women with breast cancer.

Overweight is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 25, or a waist measurement greater than 80cm for women or 90cm for men.

You can work out your BMI by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared.

BMI = ————————
(height x height)

For example, if you weigh 90kg and are 170cm tall, divide 90 by (1.7 x 1.7)

90 90
————- = ———– = 31
(1.7 x 1.7) 2.89
BMI = 18.5 – 25 healthy weight range
BMI = 25 – 30 overweight
BMI > 30 obese

If you lost a lot of weight during your cancer treatment, you may have to regain some of the lost weight to get back into the healthy weight range.

Dietitians can help

Dietitians can help you with any nutrition concerns. They are available in all public hospitals and some private hospitals. Community health centres often have a dietitian. Ask at your local centre.

Dietitians in private practice are listed in the Yellow Pages. Cancer patients are eligible for a Medicare rebate if they are being managed through an Enhanced Primary Care (EPC) plan coordinated by a General Practitioner, and some private health insurers provide a rebate.

The Dietitians Association of Australia can direct you to an accredited practising dietitian in your area or to one who has experience in particular problems.

Tips for managing your weight

To manage your weight, you need to follow a healthy eating pattern and be physically active.

Making fruit, vegetables, cereals and other low-fat foods the basis of your diet will help you achieve a healthy body weight.