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People come in different shapes and sizes. While differences are normal, more than 60% of American adults weigh more than they should. In addition, more than 30% of American children are overweight. A chronic condition known as obesity -- where a person has excessive body fat -- has reached epidemic proportions in both men and women of all ages and races.

Experts agree that being too heavy is bad for your health. Having too much fat can lead to serious health problems. More than 300,000 lives could be saved each year if everyone in America maintained a healthy weight! Next to smoking, obesity is the most common preventable cause of death in the United States.

Fat thickness, which varies greatly from one person to another, depends on the size and number of your fat cells.

Being overweight puts you at higher risk for many significant health problems, such as:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Sleep apnea
  • Varicose veins
  • Breast, endometrial, prostate, and colon cancers
  • Arthritis
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Rashes and other skin abnormalities (such as warts)
  • High blood pressure

Clearly, losing weight can have many potential health benefits. If you are overweight and have decided to shed some extra pounds, congratulations! You have already taken an important step toward improving your health and feeling better. Even losing 5 -10% of your body weight can begin to lower your risk of serious chronic diseases.

The purpose of this guide is to help you succeed with this goal. To continue to the next step, click "next" below.

Review Date: 6/28/2011

Reviewed By: Jeffrey Heit, MD, Internist with special emphasis on preventive health, fitness and nutrition, Philadelphia VA Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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