What is obesity?
Obesity is having too much body fat. Obesity causes health problems. The fatter you are, the higher your risk of health problems.
Obesity is caused by eating more calories than your body needs
Being obese increases your chances of getting many diseases, such as diabetes Diabetes Diabetes is a disease in which your blood sugar (glucose) levels are too high. You get diabetes if your body's normal way of controlling blood sugar isn't working right. There are 2 types of... read more , high blood pressure High Blood Pressure Each heart beat pushes blood through your arteries. Arteries are the blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to your body. Blood pressure is the pressure of blood in your arteries. Without... read more , heart disease, and certain cancers
Losing even a little weight can lessen your chances of having health problems
To lose weight, you should eat less and be more active (get exercise)
Medicine or surgery can sometimes help with weight loss
Obesity can cause problems in almost any organ.
Obesity is more and more common throughout the world. In the United States, about 1 in 3 adults is obese. Obesity in childhood Obesity in Adolescents Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) equal to or greater than the 95th percentile for age and gender. Although genetics and some disorders cause obesity, most adolescent obesity results... read more is also a problem.
What causes obesity?
Obesity is caused by taking in more calories than your body needs. Diet, genes, lifestyle, and use of certain drugs are some factors in obesity.
The following increase your chance of being obese:
Not getting enough physical activity, such as through sports or workouts, or having a job where you sit most of the time
Eating high-calorie foods (for example, from vending machines or fast food restaurants) or eating too much food for a long period of time
Having family members who are obese (obesity runs in families)
Having been obese as a child
Not losing pregnancy weight after having children
Hormonal changes such as menopause Menopause Menopause is when women stop having periods (stop menstruating) and can no longer get pregnant. Menopause usually happens after age 40. In the United States, the average age for menopause is... read more (when a woman stops having periods and can no longer get pregnant)
Taking certain medicines
Sleeping less than 6 hours a night
Changes in the normal germs (bacteria) in the intestines—research about this is new, so not much is known or understood about it
What are the symptoms of obesity?
Obesity may cause symptoms besides looking overweight. You may have:
Skin problems including stretch marks
Joint and back pain
How can doctors tell if I am obese?
Doctors can tell if you're obese by:
Calculating your BMI (body mass index)
Measuring how thick the fat is on your waist and on the back of your upper arm
Sometimes doing a test that measures how much fat is in your whole body (body composition test)
Your BMI is your weight (in kilograms) divided by your height (in meters). You're obese if your BMI is 30 or higher. You're overweight if your BMI is over 25.
Doctors may also:
Check for diabetes Diabetes Diabetes is a disease in which your blood sugar (glucose) levels are too high. You get diabetes if your body's normal way of controlling blood sugar isn't working right. There are 2 types of... read more and high cholesterol High Cholesterol Cholesterol is a type of fat. Fats are also called lipids. Cholesterol is a type of lipid—an essential element contained in all human cells. However, excess lipids and other fatty substances... read more with blood tests
Check for other diseases that happen more often in people with obesity, such as sleep apnea Sleep Apnea Apnea is a medical word for "not breathing." Sleep apnea is when your breathing slows or stops for a short time while you're sleeping and then restarts. This happens over and over each time... read more , fatty liver Fatty Liver Fatty liver is an abnormal accumulation of certain fats (triglycerides) inside liver cells. People with fatty liver may feel tired or have mild abdominal discomfort but otherwise have no symptoms... read more , and depression Depression Depression is feeling too sad or sluggish to do your daily tasks or take part in activities you usually enjoy. It’s normal to feel sad after something sad happens, such as a death or loss—depression... read more
How do doctors treat obesity?
Obesity is much easier to prevent than treat. Once you gain weight, your body resists losing weight. For example, when you go on a diet, you feel hungrier and burn less energy when you’re resting.
Doctors treat obesity by helping you change some of your habits:
Eat healthier foods (high in fiber, low in sugar)
Put smaller portions on your plate so you're not tempted to eat as much
Eliminate high-calorie drinks, such as soda, juice, or alcohol
Exercise more and be more active (for example, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or walk instead of driving or taking the bus)
Going to group meetings with other people trying to lose or control their weight may help you keep your healthy eating and exercise habits on track.
For people with a lot of weight to lose, doctors may offer: