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What Is Obesity?

If doctors tell you you're obese, they're not trying to make you feel bad. They're using a specific medical term -- obesity -- to talk with you about your weight.

The word "obesity" means too much body fat. It's usually based on your body mass index (BMI), which you can check using a BMI calculator. BMI compares your weight to your height.

If your BMI is 25 to 29.9, you're overweight but not obese. A BMI of 30 or more is in the obese range.

How Obesity Can Affect Your Health

Obesity can help explain some conditions you may have, such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Joint problems caused by extra weight
  • Trouble breathing, including sleep apnea, in which you briefly stop breathing while you're asleep
  • Gallstones

Small Changes Can Help

The good news is that you can take steps to lose weight. And losing even some weight can make a big difference to your health and how you feel. You may not have to lose as much as you might think in order to start seeing health benefits.

As a start, shoot to lose 1-2 pounds a week. Adults who are overweight or obese should try to lose 5% to 10% of their current weight over 6 months, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

If you're ready to get started with a weight loss program, ask your doctor to help you set personal goals and refer you to other professionals give you tips and help you reach your goals. For example, a nutritionist can help you with a food plan, and a physical therapist or trainer can help you move more.

You’ll want to go for steady progress over time, and to make lifestyle changes that work for you for the long run. That way you can start losing weight and feel better.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on March 21, 2013

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