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Aug.22.2019View related content
 Obesity, Adult

Obesity, Adult

Obesity is the condition of having too much total body fat. Being overweight or obese means that your weight is greater than what is considered healthy for your body size. Obesity is determined by a measurement called BMI. BMI is an estimate of body fat and is calculated from height and weight. For adults, a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.
Obesity can lead to other health concerns and major illnesses, including:
  • Stroke.
  • Coronary artery disease (CAD).
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Some types of cancer, including cancers of the colon, breast, uterus, and gallbladder.
  • Osteoarthritis.
  • High blood pressure (hypertension).
  • High cholesterol.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Gallbladder stones.
  • Infertility problems.

What are the causes?

Common causes of this condition include:
  • Eating daily meals that are high in calories, sugar, and fat.
  • Being born with genes that may make you more likely to become obese.
  • Having a medical condition that causes obesity, including:
    • Hypothyroidism.
    • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
    • Binge-eating disorder.
    • Cushing syndrome.
  • Taking certain medicines, such as steroids, antidepressants, and seizure medicines.
  • Not being physically active (sedentary lifestyle).
  • Not getting enough sleep.
  • Drinking high amounts of sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soft drinks.

What increases the risk?

The following factors may make you more likely to develop this condition:
  • Having a family history of obesity.
  • Being a woman of African American descent.
  • Being a man of Hispanic descent.
  • Living in an area with limited access to:
    • Parks, recreation centers, or sidewalks.
    • Healthy food choices, such as grocery stores and farmers' markets.

What are the signs or symptoms?

The main sign of this condition is having too much body fat.

How is this diagnosed?

This condition is diagnosed based on:
  • Your BMI. If you are an adult with a BMI of 30 or higher, you are considered obese.
  • Your waist circumference. This measures the distance around your waistline.
  • Your skinfold thickness. Your health care provider may gently pinch a fold of your skin and measure it.
You may have other tests to check for underlying conditions.

How is this treated?

Treatment for this condition often includes changing your lifestyle. Treatment may include some or all of the following:
  • Dietary changes. This may include developing a healthy meal plan.
  • Regular physical activity. This may include activity that causes your heart to beat faster (aerobic exercise) and strength training. Work with your health care provider to design an exercise program that works for you.
  • Medicine to help you lose weight if you are unable to lose 1 pound a week after 6 weeks of healthy eating and more physical activity.
  • Treating conditions that cause the obesity (underlying conditions).
  • Surgery. Surgical options may include gastric banding and gastric bypass. Surgery may be done if:
    • Other treatments have not helped to improve your condition.
    • You have a BMI of 40 or higher.
    • You have life-threatening health problems related to obesity.

Follow these instructions at home:

Eating and drinking

  • Follow recommendations from your health care provider about what you eat and drink. Your health care provider may advise you to:
    • Limit fast food, sweets, and processed snack foods.
    • Choose low-fat options, such as low-fat milk instead of whole milk.
    • Eat 5 or more servings of fruits or vegetables every day.
    • Eat at home more often. This gives you more control over what you eat.
    • Choose healthy foods when you eat out.
    • Learn to read food labels. This will help you understand how much food is considered 1 serving.
    • Learn what a healthy serving size is.
    • Keep low-fat snacks available.
    • Limit sugary drinks, such as soda, fruit juice, sweetened iced tea, and flavored milk.
  • Drink enough water to keep your urine pale yellow.
  • Do not follow a fad diet. Fad diets can be unhealthy and even dangerous.

Physical activity

  • Exercise regularly, as told by your health care provider.
    • Most adults should get up to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week.
    • Ask your health care provider what types of exercise are safe for you and how often you should exercise.
  • Warm up and stretch before being active.
  • Cool down and stretch after being active.
  • Rest between periods of activity.

Lifestyle

  • Work with your health care provider and a dietitian to set a weight-loss goal that is healthy and reasonable for you.
  • Limit your screen time.
  • Find ways to reward yourself that do not involve food.
  • Do not drink alcohol if:
    • Your health care provider tells you not to drink.
    • You are pregnant, may be pregnant, or are planning to become pregnant.
  • If you drink alcohol:
    • Limit how much you use to:
      • 0–1 drink a day for women.
      • 0–2 drinks a day for men.
    • Be aware of how much alcohol is in your drink. In the U.S., one drink equals one 12 oz bottle of beer (355 mL), one 5 oz glass of wine (148 mL), or one 1½ oz glass of hard liquor (44 mL).

General instructions

  • Keep a weight-loss journal to keep track of the food you eat and how much exercise you get.
  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.
  • Take vitamins and supplements only as told by your health care provider.
  • Consider joining a support group. Your health care provider may be able to recommend a support group.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider. This is important.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • You are unable to meet your weight loss goal after 6 weeks of dietary and lifestyle changes.

Get help right away if you are having:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Summary

  • Obesity is the condition of having too much total body fat.
  • Being overweight or obese means that your weight is greater than what is considered healthy for your body size.
  • Work with your health care provider and a dietitian to set a weight-loss goal that is healthy and reasonable for you.
  • Exercise regularly, as told by your health care provider. Ask your health care provider what types of exercise are safe for you and how often you should exercise.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.