"The Dietary Guidelines for Americans" (item 514X, free), published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health, gives you the latest nutritional information in an easy-to-read form.

It explains why you need to eat a variety of foods and provides you with a daily food guide, weight chart and calories-expended chart for various physical activities.For a copy send your name and address to Consumer Information Center, 514X, Pueblo, CO 81009.

Being overweight is linked to several health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, certain cancers and other types of illnesses.

The booklet has an up-to-date weight chart. Suggested weight for adults 35 years and over who are 5 feet 8 inches tall ranges from 138 to 178 pounds.

The booklet explains how your body shape as well as your weight affect your health. If you have excess fat in your abdomen, it is believed to be a greater health risk than if you have extra fat on your hips and thighs.

You can determine your waist-to-hip ratio by dividing your waist measurement by your hip measurement.

If you need to lose weight, keep in mind that no one plan is best for everyone. If you are not physically active, regular excercise may help you lose weight and keep it off. The booklet has a chart that tells you the calories you use up doing many everyday activities.

Some advice about losing weight:

- Don't try to lose weight too fast. A steady loss of a half to one pound a week until you reach your goal is generally safe. Avoid crash diets that severely restrict the variety of foods or the calories you can have.

- Set reasonable weight goals and try for long-term success through better eating habits. Variety, balance and moderation are the keys to sensible eating. Each day you should eat foods from the major food groups and go easy on fats, sweets and alcohol that supply calories but few vitamins and minerals.