Preventing Health Risks of Being Overweight

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    Preventing Health Risks of Being Overweight

    Preventing Health Risks of Being Overweight

    Maintaining a healthy body weight is an important part of your overall health. Your healthy body weight depends on your age, gender, and height. Being overweight puts you at risk for many health problems.

    You can make changes to your diet and lifestyle to prevent these risks. Consider working with a health care provider or a dietitian to make these changes.

    How can being overweight affect me?

    Being overweight can affect you for your entire life. You may develop joint or bone problems that make it painful or difficult for you to play sports or do activities you enjoy. Being overweight also puts stress on your heart and lungs and can lead to medical problems such as:
    • Heart disease.
    • Diabetes.
    • Some types of cancer.
    • Stroke.

    Eating healthy and being active helps you lose weight and prevents health problems caused by being overweight. Making these changes can also help you manage stress, feel better mentally, and connect with friends and family.

    What can increase my risk?

    In addition to certain diet and lifestyle choices, some other factors that may make you more likely to be overweight include:
    • Having a family history of obesity.
    • Living in an area with limited access to:
      • Parks, recreation centers, or sidewalks.
      • Healthy food choices, such as grocery stores and farmers' markets.

    What actions can I take to prevent health risks of being overweight?

    A couple holding hands and walking.


    A plate with examples of foods in a healthy diet.
    • Eat only as much as your body needs. In most cases, this is about 2,000 calories a day, but the amount varies depending on your height, gender, and activity level. Ask your health care provider how many calories you should have each day. Eating more than your body needs on a regular basis can cause you to become overweight or obese.
    • Eat slowly, and stop eating when you feel full.
    • Choose healthy foods, including:
      • Fruits and vegetables.
      • Lean meats.
      • Low-fat dairy products.
      • High-fiber foods, such as whole grains and beans.
      • Healthy snacks like vegetable sticks, a piece of fruit, or a small amount of yogurt or cheese.
    • Avoid foods and drinks that are high in sugar, salt (sodium), saturated fat, or trans fat. This includes:
      • Many desserts such as candy, cookies, and ice cream.
      • Soda.
      • Fried foods.
      • Processed, precooked, or cured meat, such as hot dogs, sausages, or meat loaves.
      • Prepackaged snack foods.


    • Exercise for at least 150 minutes a week to prevent weight gain, or as often as recommended by your health care provider. Do moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking.
      • Spread it out by exercising for 30 minutes 5 days a week, or in short 10-minute bursts several times a day.
    • Find other ways to stay active and burn calories, such as yard work or a hobby that involves physical activity.
    • Get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. When you are well rested, you are more likely to be active and make healthy choices during the day. To sleep better:
      • Try to go to bed and wake up at about the same time every day.
      • Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool.
      • Make sure that your bed is comfortable.
      • Avoid stimulating activities, such as watching television or exercising, for at least an hour before bedtime.

    Where to find support

    You can get support for preventing health risks of being overweight from:
    • Your health care provider or a dietitian. They can provide guidance about healthy eating and healthy lifestyle choices.
    • Weight loss support groups, online or in-person.

    Where to find more information

    • MyPlate:
      • This an online tool that provides personalized recommendations about foods to eat each day.
    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
      • This resource gives tips for managing weight and having an active lifestyle.


    • Eating healthy and being active helps you lose weight and prevents health problems caused by being overweight.
    • Being overweight puts stress on your heart and lungs and can lead to medical problems such as diabetes, heart disease, some types of cancer, and stroke.

    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.

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