Obesity

Obesity means having too much body fat.

Obesity occurs over time when you eat more calories than you use. The balance between calories-in and calories-out differs for each person. Factors that might affect your weight include your genetic makeup, overeating, eating high-fat foods, and not being physically active.

Being obese increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, and some cancers. If you are obese, losing even 5 to 10 percent of your weight can delay or prevent some of these diseases. For example, that means losing 10 to 20 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds.

Maintaining a nutrional diet and regular exercise is the leading prevention of Obesity and Overweightedness. 

 

Your genes, the world around you, and other factors may all affect weight gain.

Family

Research shows that obesity tends to run in families, suggesting that genes may contribute to obesity. Families also share diet and lifestyle habits that may affect weight. However, it is possible to manage your weight even if obesity is common in your family.

The World around You

Where people live, play, and work may also strongly affect their weight. Consider the fact that obesity rates were lower 30 years ago. Since that time, our genetic make-up hasn't changed, but our world has.

The world around us affects access to healthy foods and places to walk and be active in many ways:

  • Many people drive rather than walk.
  • Living in areas without sidewalks or safe places to exercise may make it tough to be more active.
  • Many people eat out or get takeout instead of cooking, which may lead to eating more calories.
  • Most vending machines do not offer low-calorie, low-fat snacks.

Overweight and obesity affect people in all income ranges. But people who live in low-income areas may face even greater barriers to eating healthy foods and being active than other people. High-calorie processed foods often cost less than healthier options, such as fruits and vegetables. There also may be few safe, free, or low-cost places nearby to be active on a regular basis. These factors may contribute to weight gain.

Sleep

Research suggests that lack of sleep is linked to overweight and obesity. Recent studies have found that sleeping less may make it harder to lose weight. In these studies, adults who were trying to lose weight and who slept less ate more calories and snacked more.

Medicine

Certain drugs may cause weight gain. Steroids and some drugs to treat depression or other mental health problems may make you burn calories more slowly or feel hungry. Be sure your health care provider knows all the medicines you are taking (including over-the-counter drugs and dietary supplements). He or she may suggest another medicine that has less effect on weight.

Our bodies need calories (energy) to keep us alive and active. But to maintain weight we need to balance the energy we take in with the energy we use. When a person eats and drinks more calories than he or she burns, the energy balance tips toward weight gain, overweight, and obesity. The tipping point at which the calories coming in and the calories going out become out of balance and lead to weight gain may differ from one person to another.​
 

Body mass index (BMI) is one way to tell whether you are at a normal weight, overweight, or obese. The BMI measures your weight in relation to your height.

The BMI table below will help you to find your BMI score. Find your height in inches in the left column labeled "Height." Move across the row to your weight. The number at the top of the column is the BMI for that height and weight. Pounds are rounded off. You may also go to the Resources section at the end of this page for a link to an online tool for measuring BMI.

A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is in the normal range. A person with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight, and someone with a BMI of 30 or greater is considered obese.

However, because BMI doesn't measure actual body fat, a person who is very muscular, like a bodybuilder, may have a high BMI without having a lot of body fat. Please review your findings with your health care provider if your BMI is outside of the normal range.

The best way to control your weight may depend on how much excess weight you have, your overall health, and how ready you are to change your eating and physical activity habits. In some cases, if lifestyle changes do not lead to enough weight loss to improve your health, doctors may recommend additional treatment, including weight-loss drugs.

In some cases of extreme obesity, doctors may recommend bariatric surgery.