Weight and Obesity

Weight Gain Basics

Obesity overview

Obesity is a condition in which a person has an excess of body fat. It is one of the leading causes of preventable death, contributing to serious health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Almost one-third of Americans are obese, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Weight gain occurs when energy intake exceeds the energy a person expends. When a person takes in an excessive amount of energy, it is stored in the fat cells of adipose tissue. People who are obese have more and larger fat cells than those who maintain healthier body weights.

A combination of high-fat, high-calorie diet (including large quantities of processed foods and refined sugar) and sedentary lifestyle (including lack of regular exercise) is among the main causes of obesity. Genetics also appears to play a role in obesity. If one parent is obese, a child’s chances of being overweight are 40 percent. That percentage doubles if both parents are obese.

Obesity is usually measured by the body mass index (BMI), a calculation based on an individual’s weight and height. BMI is the most common method of tracking weight problems and obesity among adults and is strongly connected to body fat. The criteria for determining obesity are the same for men and women.

People who are obese can usually gain significant health benefits by losing weight. The key is to change the person’s energy balance so that energy output exceeds energy intake. When this occurs the size of the person’s fat cells shrinks, leading to modest but significant weight loss. Even losing as little as 5 percent to 7 percent of total body weight can result in a dramatic decrease in risk for health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Prevention of obesity requires maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Lifelong patterns of eating and activity are often established during childhood. Therefore, parents are urged to provide their children with healthy meals and encourage an active lifestyle to promote overall wellness.


The Basics

There's a science to weight gain and loss. And learning about it can give you an edge when you want to shed excess pounds.

The articles here explain how you gain weight and why it becomes a problem. You'll learn how to prevent gaining in the first place, and also find out about a growing problem: childhood weight gain. You can also read a list of weight-loss tips, with links to longer articles to get you started.


Adopt New Attitudes

Increased activity and smart nutritional choices aren't the only keys to weight loss. A third component is also crucial. The right attitude can make your weight-loss efforts a breeze — just as the wrong one can sabotage your every attempt. A positive outlook is just as important to losing weight as committing to daily exercise and selecting the right kinds of foods to eat.

The articles in this section can help you recognize what your attitude is right now — and how to turn it around if necessary. With this information, you can use the power of your mind to help you achieve your goal of a lean and healthy body.

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