Obesity Resources for Patients

There are many factors that contribute to obesity, some that we can control and some that we can’t. Regardless, obesity can increase your risk for many other medical conditions, including cancer, type 2 diabetes, and depression.


What is Obesity?

  • Obesity is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health
  • Obesity is a disease caused by a complex relationship between genetics, the environment, and many other factors
  • Obesity can be caused by many factors, including:

    • Genetics
    • Nutrition
    • Hormones
    • Medications
    • Environmental factors
    • Sleep4

Can obesity cause other health related issues?

  • Current studies show that obesity decreases the lifespan by up to 8 years and is associated with many other medical problems, such as:
    • Cancer
    • Type 2 diabetes
    • Sleep apnea
    • High blood pressure
    • High cholesterol
    • Depression5

How do I know if I’m obese?

  • The CDC uses body mass index (BMI) to measure obesity
    • BMI is calculated by finding a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of their height in meters
  • A BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese
    • The WHO recognizes that there are limitations to the use of BMI as a tool for diagnosing obesity, and state that it is only a “crude population measure of obesity”6
  • BMI calculator

How to Prevent Obesity

How to Diagnose Obesity

To diagnose obesity, a doctor may:

  • Discuss your health history
    • Your doctor will discuss your medical and weight history with you and may review your family’s health history
  • Conduct a general physical exam
    • This will likely include taking your vital signs, listening to your heart and lungs, and examining your abdomen
  • Calculate BMI
    • A BMI of 30 or higher is considered obesity — you can also check your BMI on your own with this BMI calculator
  • Measure your waist circumference
    • High waist measurements (35 inches for women and 40 inches for men) may indicate more health risks
  • Check for other health problems
    • Examples include high blood pressure and diabetes and certain heart tests such as an electrocardiogram
  • Order blood tests
    • These may include a cholesterol test, liver function tests, a fasting glucose, a thyroid test and others11

How to Treat Obesity:

  • Dietary changes
    • Reduce caloric intake
    • Practice healthier eating habits
    • Avoid drastic and unrealistic diet changes such as crash diets
  • Exercise and activity
    • Try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week
    • Keep moving and avoid sitting still for long periods of time
    • Try to reach 10,000 steps each day
  • Behavior changes
    • Counseling or talking to a mental health professional
    • Join support groups with others in a similar situation

To prevent weight regain:

  • Keep track of physical activity
  • Talk to your doctor about additional activities and resources available
  • Continue to maintain a healthy diet11

A National Call to Action: Obesity Bill of Rights

The Obesity Bill of Rights seeks to break stigma, empower patients and demand equal care for those suffering from obesity. 


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