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About Obesity

Obesity refers to the excess in body fat.

While that may seem like a simple explanation, this medical condition can cause a number of complex problems. Living with obesity raises serious health concerns and puts you at a higher risk of certain diseases.

An obese person is someone who has accumulated so much body fat that it might have a negative effect on their health. If a person’s body weight is at least 20 percent higher than it should be, he or she is considered obese. You are considered overweight if your Body Mass Index (BMI) is between 25 and 29.9. You are considered obese if your BMI is 30 or more. To determine your BMI now, use our BMI calculator below.

Assessing obesity

Whether you are overweight or obese, excess weight gain can cause a sharp decline in your health. The difference is in the treatment you receive to lose weight, and those considered overweight my not qualify for weight-loss surgery. Measuring your weight status can give you some insight into the kinds of treatment available to you.


You can calculate your BMI by taking your weight and dividing it by your height in inches squared. Then you multiply that by 703. For example, if you weigh 250 pounds and are 6’ 0” your formula would look like this:

BMI = (250/ 72^2) x 703

BMI = 33.90

You can also use this simple BMI calculator — enter your weight and height to calculate your BMI:

BMI Calculator
Unit System
BMI > 18.5
18.5 - 24.9
25 - 29.9
30 < BMI

If your BMI is greater than 25, we recommend talking to your doctor about the ways you can reduce weight gain.

A major cause for concern

Today, obesity is an intensifying problem in America, affecting 1 in 3 adults according to the National Institutes of Health. There are dozens of medical conditions associated with obesity. According to the Obesity Action Coalition, people who are obese or morbidly obese risk developing:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
  • Some cancers (endometrial, breast and colon)

Leading causes of obesity

1. Consuming too many calories

People are eating more than they used to, exceeding the recommended amount of calories, refined grains, sodium and saturated fat intake. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of all countries, the United States has the highest rate of obesity. As of 2010, more than 78 million adults and almost 12.6 million children and adolescents in the U.S. are obese, according to the CDC.

2. Leading a sedentary lifestyle.

The less you move around the fewer calories you burn. With the arrival of televisions, computers, video games, remote controls, washing machines, dishwashers and other modern convenience devices, the majority of people in the U.S. are leading a much more inactive lifestyle compared to their ancestors from prior generations. Less than five percent of adults engage in physical activity of more than 30 minutes each day.

However, this is not only a question of calories. Physical activity has an effect on how your hormones work, and hormones have an effect on how your body deals with food. Several studies have shown that physical activity has a beneficial effect on your insulin levels – keeping them stable. Unstable insulin levels are closely associated with weight gain.

3. Not sleeping enough

Lack of sleep or erratic slumber from working late-night shifts or travel may lead to diabetes and obesity, according to a Harvard study that is the first to tie abnormal sleep patterns to disease. In a trial of 21 men and women observed in a sleep laboratory, those allowed only 5.6 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period over three weeks had a slowdown in their metabolism and a reduction in insulin production. Those changes can lead to weight gain and increased blood sugar.

4. Fructose effect on the brain may promote obesity.

Researchers from Yale University School of Medicine compared the effects of fructose and glucose on the brain with MRI scans and found that high fructose diets may be behind the current obesity epidemic.