What Is Obesity?

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on January 06, 2023

If doctors use the term obese, they're using a specific medical term to discuss a chronic disease -- obesity --  that is related to certain health risks linked to your weight.

"Obesity" is defined as too much body fat and can put your health at risk. Body Mass Index (BMI) is a tool that can screen for overweight or obesity. You can check it by using an online BMI calculator. BMI compares your weight to your height. Measuring your waist is another way to check your risk for certain weight-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure.

If your BMI is 25 to 29.9, your weight is classified as overweight but not obese. A BMI of 30 or more is in the obese category. A waist size of ≥40 in (102 cm) for men and ≥35 in (88 cm) for women is considered elevated.

Obesity can increase the risk of some other chronic diseases you may have, such as:

There are many treatments for weight loss that can make a big difference to your health and how you feel. Even a small reduction in weight benefits your health.

Try starting a supervised weight loss and exercise program, ask your doctor to help you set personal goals, and refer you to other professionals who can help. For example, a dietitian can work with you to develop a plan for healthy nutrition, and a physical therapist or trainer can help you move more, a bariatric medicine or weight loss specialist can also be a part of your healthcare team..

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

Show Sources


Stanford Hospital & Clinics: "Health Effects of Obesity."

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: "What Are the Health Risks of Overweight and Obesity?" and "How Are Overweight and Obesity Treated?"

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