Overweight and Obesity
Overweight and Obesity

Overweight and Obesity What Are Overweight and Obesity?

Overweight and obesity are common conditions in the United States that are defined as the increase in size and amount of fat cells in the body. Overweight and obesity are caused by many factors including behaviors like eating patterns, lack of sleep or physical activity, and some medicines, as well as genetics and family history. Obesity is a chronic health condition that raises the risk for heart disease — the leading cause of death in the United States — and is linked to many other health problems, including type 2 diabetes and cancer.

Nearly 3 in 4 adults age 20 or older in the United States have either overweight or obesity. Nearly 1 in 5 children and teens ages 2 to 19 years have obesity. Overweight and obesity can lead to serious health issues for people of all ages.

Healthcare providers use body mass index (BMI) to screen for overweight and obesity in adults. BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight and is defined as the body mass (in kilograms) divided by the square of the body height (in meters) and expressed in units of kg/m². Your provider may talk to you about overweight and obesity if your BMI shows that your weight is above average for your height. But there is more to obesity than BMI.

Unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as not getting enough physical activity and eating high-calorie, low-nutrient foods and beverages, can raise your risk of overweight and obesity. Some people find that their weight goes up when they start taking medicine for another health condition such as diabetes, depression, or high blood pressure. Talk to your provider before you consider stopping any medicine you are taking for another condition that you think is also impacting your weight.

Lifestyle changes that can reduce weight include following a heart-healthy eating plan lower in calories and unhealthy saturated fats and increasing physical activity. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also approved medicines and other treatments for weight loss. Surgery may also be a treatment option but is not available for everyone.

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