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About Obesity

Obesity affects more than one-third of adults in America, yet many affected are unaware of the severity of their obesity and the implications for their health.1,2 Support from health care professionals can help you achieve clinically significant and maintained weight loss.3

What is obesity?

Obesity is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health. It is caused by an energy imbalance over time (ie, when more calories are consumed than used by the body), leading to the storage of excess energy as fat.4,5 Complex and multifactorial in nature, obesity is influenced by physiological, psychological, environmental, socioeconomic, and genetic factors.6,7

Obesity is commonly measured by body mass index (BMI), a measurement that helps health care professionals determine if a person is carrying excess weight in proportion to their height.8

Is obesity a disease?

Obesity is recognized as a chronic disease by leading medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, American Academy of Family Physicians, and The Obesity Society.9-12

Obesity increases your risk of developing many weight-related health conditions, including13-17:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Pre-diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Some cancers
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Arthritis
  • Sleep apnea (difficulties breathing when sleeping)

If you are living with obesity, be encouraged. While losing weight and keeping it off can be hard, there is good news. You may not need to lose as much weight as you think to see improvements in your health. Learn more here.

  1. Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Fryar CD, Flegal KM. Prevalence of obesity among adults and youth: United States, 2011–2014. NCHS data brief, no 219. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2015.
  2. Tompson T, Benz J, Agiesta J, et al. Obesity in the United States: public perceptions. The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs. 2013. www.apnorc.org/PDFs/Obesity/AP-NORC-Obesity-Research-Highlights.pdf. Accessed July 25, 2014.
  3. Loureiro ML, Nayga RM Jr. Obesity, weight loss, and physician’s advice. Soc Sci Med. 2006;62(10):2458-2468.
  4. World Health Organization. Fact sheet no. 311: obesity and overweight. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/. Updated January 2015. Accessed August 5, 2015.
  5. Kushner R, Lawrence V, Kumar S. Practical Manual of Clinical Obesity. 1st ed. West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd; 2013.
  6. Obesity Education Initiative; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; US Department of Health and Human Services; Identification, evaluation, and treatment of overweight and obesity in adults: The practical guide. Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health; 2000. NIH publication 00-4084.
  7. Wright SM, Aronne LJ. Causes of obesity. Abdom Imaging. 2012;37(5):730-732.
  8. World Health Organization. BMI classification. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/. Accessed December 1, 2015.
  9. American Medical Association House of Delegates. Recognition of obesity as a disease. Resolution 420 (A-13). http://www.npr.org/documents/2013/jun/ama-resolution-obesity.pdf. Received May 15, 2013. Accessed December 8, 2015.
  10. 10. Mechanick JI, Garber AJ, Handelsman Y, Garvey WT. American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists' Position Statement on Obesity and Obesity Medicine. Endocrine Practice. 2012;18:642-648.
  11. McKinney L. Diagnosis and Management of Obesity. American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). https://www.aafp.org/dam/AAFP/documents/patient_care/fitness/obesity-diagnosis-mono.pdf. Published 2013. Accessed August 5, 2015.
  12. Allison DB, Downey M, Atkinson RL, et al. Obesity as a disease: a white paper on evidence and arguments commissioned by the Council of the Obesity Society. Obesity. 2008;16(6):1161-1177.
  13. Guh DP, Zhang W, Bansback N, et al. The incidence of co-morbidities related to obesity and overweight: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Public Health. 2009;9:88.
  14. Mokdad AH, Ford ES, Bowman BA, et al. Prevalence of obesity, diabetes, and obesity-related health risk factors. 2001. JAMA. http://jama.jamanetwork.com/. Accessed February 25, 2015.
  15. Grundy SM. Pre-diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular risk. J Am Col Cardiol. 2012:59:635-643
  16. Bhaskaran K, Douglas I, Forbes H, et al. Body-mass index and risk of 22 specific cancers: a population-based cohort study of 5.24 million UK adults. Lancet. 2014;384:755-765.
  17. Li C, Ford ES, Zhao G, et al. Prevalence of self-reported clinically diagnosed sleep apnea according to obesity status in men and women: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2005-2006. Prev Med. 2010;51:18-23.



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