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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, including:
  • Heart disease.
  • Diabetes.
  • Problems sleeping.
  • Joint 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.

What nutrition changes can be made?

  • 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 meats such as hot dogs or lunch meats.
    • Prepackaged snack foods.

What lifestyle changes can be made?

  • 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 one hour before bedtime.

Why are these changes important?

Eating healthy and being active helps you lose weight and prevent 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 happen if changes are not made?

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 puts stress on your heart and lungs and can lead to medical problems like diabetes, heart disease, and sleeping problems.

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


  • To prevent unhealthy weight gain, it is important to maintain a healthy diet high in vegetables and whole grains, exercise regularly, and get at least 8 hours of sleep each night.
  • Making these changes helps prevent many long-term (chronic) health conditions that can shorten your life, such as diabetes, heart disease, 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.