Overweight and Obesity Overweight and Obesity
National Heart Lung and Blood Institute

The terms “overweight” and “obesity” refer to a person’s overall body weight and where the extra weight comes from. Overweight is having extra body weight from muscle, bone, fat, and/or water. Obesity is having a high amount of extra body fat. The most useful measure of overweight and obesity is the body mass index (BMI). BMI is based on height and weight and is used for adults, children, and teens. For more information about BMI, see “How Are Overweight and Obesity Diagnosed?”

Millions of Americans and people worldwide are overweight or obese. Being overweight or obese puts you at risk for many diseases and conditions. The more body fat that you carry around and the more you weigh, the more likely you are to develop heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems, and certain cancers.

A person’s weight is a result of many factors. These factors include environment, family history and genetics, metabolism (the way your body changes food and oxygen into energy), behavior or habits, and other factors.

Certain things, like family history, can’t be changed. However, other things—like a person’s lifestyle habits—can be changed. You can help prevent or treat overweight and obesity if you:

Follow a healthful diet, while keeping your calorie needs in mind Are physically active Limit the time you spend being physically inactive

Weight loss medicines and surgery also are options for some people who need to lose weight if lifestyle changes don’t work.

Outlook

Reaching and staying at a healthy weight is a long-term challenge for people who are overweight or obese. But it also can be a chance to lower your risk of other serious health problems. With the right treatment and motivation, it’s possible to lose weight and lower your long-term disease risk.


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