Obesity is a medical condition in which a high amount of body fat makes it hard for a person’s internal organs to work well. This can cause poor health.
People with obesity have a higher chance of developing these health problems:
Three things can be used to determine if a person’s body fat gives them a higher chance of developing obesity-related diseases:
Body mass index (BMI) is calculated using height and weight. It is used to estimate body fat.
Starting at 25.0, the higher your BMI, the greater is your risk of developing obesity-related health problems. These ranges of BMI are used to describe levels of risk:
Women with a waist size greater than 35 inches and men with a waist size greater than 40 inches have an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. People with "apple-shaped" bodies (waist is bigger than the hips) also have an increased risk of these conditions.
Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get the disease. But it does increase the chance that you will. Some risk factors, like your age, race, or family history cannot be changed.
The more risk factors you have, the more likely it is that you will develop the disease or health problem.
Your risk of health problems such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney problems increases if you are obese and have these risk factors:
These other risk factors for heart disease and stroke are not caused by obesity:
You can control many of these risk factors by changing your lifestyle. If you have obesity, your doctor can help you begin a weight-loss program. A starting goal of losing 5% - 10% of your current weight will reduce your risk of developing obesity-related diseases.
Jensen MD. Obesity. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 227.
Screening for and Management of Obesity in Adults. Rockville, MD. US Preventive Services Task Force; June 2012: AHRQ publication 11-05159-EF-2.
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial Team.
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