Overweight in Adults

Being overweight or obese means your weight is above an ideal weight range. Excess weight creates an increase in the risk of serious diseases like heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes. One tool used to estimate weight range is called the body mass index (BMI). This scale determines weight ranges based on height. BMI levels in adults include:

  • Causes

    Being overweight is caused by taking in more calories than we use. Calories are taken in through food. All activity in our bodies is fueled by calories. This includes physical activity and basic bodily functions. Excess weight gain occurs when this relationship is not kept in balance. If this imbalance happens regularly it will lead to obesity.

    Factors that can influence the development of obesity include:

    • Genetics
    • Biologic factors—the amount and activity of certain chemicals in the body
    • Medications, such as corticosteroids, antidepressants, or antipsychotics.
    • Underactive thyroid
      .
    • Cushing's disease
      .
    • Polycystic ovary syndrome
      .

  • Definition

    Being overweight or obese means your weight is above an ideal weight range. Excess weight creates an increase in the risk of serious diseases like heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes.

    One tool used to estimate weight range is called the body mass index (BMI). This scale determines weight ranges based on height. BMI levels in adults include:

    • Ideal weight range: 18.5-24.9
    • Overweight: 25-29.9
    • Obese: 30 or above
    • Morbid obesity: 40

  • Diagnosis

    You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Obesity is diagnosed by visual exam and body measurements using:

    • Height and weight tables
    • Body mass index
    • Measuring body folds with a caliper
    • Measuring waist circumference
    • Water-displacement tests

    Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with blood tests.

  • Prevention

    Controlling your weight can be difficult. To reduce your chance of getting overweight, take these steps:

    • Talk to your doctor or a dietitian about an appropriate number of calories to eat per day that will help you maintain a healthy weight or lose weight if necessary.
    • Learn to eat smaller portions of food.
    • Limit the amount of time you spend doing sedentary activities. This includes watching TV or using the computer.
    • Talk to your doctor or an exercise professional about working activity into your daily life.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your chance of becoming overweight include:

    • Eating large portions of food
    • Sedentary lifestyle—Getting too little exercise and spending too much time in front of a television or computer
    • Eating until full and eating quickly

    • High level of
      fast food
      intake
    • Increased age

    • High
      alcohol
      consumption
    • Working varied shifts
    • Not getting enough sleep
    • Post-traumatic stress disorder in women

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms may include:

    • Increased weight
    • Thickness around the midsection
    • Obvious areas of fat deposits

  • Treatment

    Obesity is difficult to treat. Things that affect treatment are:

    • Cultural factors
    • Personal habits
    • Lifestyle
    • Genetics

    You and your doctor will talk about the best treatment plan for you.
    There are many different approaches to treating obesity based on lifestyle changes. You are more likely to successfully lose weight and keep it off by using a combination of strategies. These can include eating healthy, exercise, counseling, and/or medication. Plans for weight loss may include: