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Health risks of obesity

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Obesity and health

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Description

Obesity means weighing more than what is healthy for a given height. Obesity is a serious, chronic disease. It can lead to other health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.

People with obesity have a higher chance of developing these health problems:

Three things can be used to determine if a person's weight gives them a higher chance of developing obesity-related diseases:

Body Mass Index

Experts often rely on BMI to determine if a person is overweight. The BMI estimates your level of body fat based on your height and weight.

Starting at 25.0, the higher your BMI, the greater is your risk of developing obesity-related health problems. These ranges of BMI are used to describe levels of risk:

There are many websites with calculators that give your BMI when you enter your weight and height.

Waist Size

Women with a waist size greater than 35 inches (89 centimeters) and men with a waist size greater than 40 inches (102 centimeters) have an increased risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. People with "apple-shaped" bodies (waist is bigger than the hips) also have an increased risk for these conditions.

Risk Factors

Having a risk factor for a disease doesn't mean that you will get the disease. But it does increase the chance that you will. Some risk factors, like age, race, or family history can't be changed.

The more risk factors you have, the more likely it is that you will develop the disease or health problem.

Your risk of developing health problems such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney problems increases if you have obesity and have these risk factors:

These other risk factors for heart disease and stroke are not caused by obesity:

Summing it up

You can control many of these risk factors by changing your lifestyle. If you have obesity, your health care provider can help you begin a weight-loss program. A starting goal of losing 5% to 10% of your current weight will significantly reduce your risk of developing obesity-related diseases.

References

Jensen MD. Obesity. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 207.

Ramu A, Neild P. Diet and nutrition. In: Naish J, Syndercombe Court D, eds. Medical Sciences. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 16.

Spratt SE, Woodmansee WW. Endocrinology. In: Harward MP, ed. Medical Secrets. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 16.

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Review Date: 4/17/2021  

Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Editorial update 05/23/2022.

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