What is obesity?
Obesity is when your body mass index (BMI) is greater than 30. Your healthcare provider will use your height and weight to measure your BMI.
What are the risks of obesity? Obesity can cause many health problems, including injuries or physical disability.
You may need tests to check for the following:
- High blood pressure or high cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Gallbladder or liver disease
- Cancer of the colon, breast, prostate, liver, or kidney
- Sleep apnea
- Arthritis or gout
Diagnosis & Treatment Options
How is obesity treated?
The goal of treatment is to help you lose weight so your health will improve. Even a small decrease in BMI can reduce the risk for many health problems. Your healthcare provider will help you set a weight-loss goal.
- Lifestyle changes are the first step in treating obesity. These include making healthy food choices and getting regular physical activity. Your healthcare provider may suggest a weight-loss program that involves coaching, education, and therapy.
- Medicine may help you lose weight when it is used with a healthy diet and physical activity.
- Surgery can help you lose weight if you are very obese and have other health problems. There are several types of weight-loss surgery. Ask your healthcare provider for more information.
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How can I be successful at losing weight?
- Set small, realistic goals. An example of a small goal is to walk for 20 minutes 5 days a week. Anther goal is to lose 5% of your body weight.
- Tell friends, family members, and coworkers about your goals and ask for their support. Ask a friend to lose weight with you, or join a weight-loss support group.
- Identify foods or triggers that may cause you to overeat, and find ways to avoid them. Remove tempting high-calorie foods from your home and workplace. Place a bowl of fresh fruit on your kitchen counter. If stress causes you to eat, then find other ways to cope with stress.
- Keep a diary to track what you eat and drink. Also write down how many minutes of physical activity you do each day. Weigh yourself once a week and record it in your diary.
What eating changes should I make? You will need to eat 500 to 1,000 fewer calories each day than you currently eat to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week. The following changes will help you cut calories:
- Eat smaller portions. Use small plates, no larger than 9 inches in diameter. Fill your plate half full of fruits and vegetables. Measure your food using measuring cups until you know what a serving size looks like.
- Eat 3 meals and 1 or 2 snacks each day. Plan your meals in advance. Cook and eat at home most of the time. Eat slowly. Do not skip meals. Skipping meals can lead to overeating later in the day. This can make it harder for you to lose weight. Talk with a dietitian to help you make a meal plan and schedule that is right for you.
- Eat fruits and vegetables at every meal. They are low in calories and high in fiber, which makes you feel full. Do not add butter, margarine, or cream sauce to vegetables. Use herbs to season steamed vegetables.
- Eat less fat and fewer fried foods. Eat more baked or grilled chicken and fish. These protein sources are lower in calories and fat than red meat. Limit fast food. Dress your salads with olive oil and vinegar instead of bottled dressing.
- Limit the amount of sugar you eat. Do not drink sugary beverages. Limit alcohol.
What activity changes should I make?
Physical activity is good for your body in many ways. It helps you burn calories and build strong muscles. It decreases stress and depression, and improves your mood. It can also help you sleep better. Talk to your healthcare provider before you begin an exercise program.
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes 5 days a week. Start slowly. Set aside time each day for physical activity that you enjoy and that is convenient for you. It is best to do both weight training and an activity that increases your heart rate, such as walking, bicycling, or swimming.
- Find ways to be more active. Do yard work and housecleaning. Walk up the stairs instead of using elevators. Spend your leisure time going to events that require walking, such as outdoor festivals or fairs. This extra physical activity can help you lose weight and keep it off.
When should I seek immediate care?
- You have a severe headache, confusion, or difficulty speaking.
- You have weakness on one side of your body.
- You have chest pain, sweating, or shortness of breath.
When should I contact my healthcare provider?
- You have symptoms of gallbladder or liver disease, such as pain in your upper abdomen.
- You have knee or hip pain and discomfort while walking.
- You have symptoms of diabetes, such as intense hunger and thirst, and frequent urination.
- You have symptoms of sleep apnea, such as snoring or daytime sleepiness.