What Is It?
Obesity is an excess of body fat.
It is difficult to directly measure body fat. Body mass index (BMI) is a popular method of defining a healthy weight. BMI should be used as a guide, along with waist size, to help estimate the amount of body fat.
BMI estimates a healthy weight based on your height. Because it considers height as well as weight, it is a more accurate guide than body weight alone.
To calculate your BMI:
Then use the chart below to see what category your BMI falls into.
Obesity can shorten your life.
It can also put you at risk of developing a number of conditions. These include:
Many other health risks are higher for people who are obese. These risks may increase as the degree of obesity increases.
Where you carry the extra weight is also important. People who carry extra weight around their waist may be more likely to experience health problems caused by obesity than those who carry it in their legs and thighs.
People become obese for a number of reasons. Often, several of these factors are involved.
Some of the most common reasons for obesity are:
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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.
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