This content will no longer be available as of 10/11

Stay tuned for improvements we're making to our Health Information section.

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.

A.D.A.M. qualityA.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC'saccreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorousstandards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information andservices. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorialpolicy, editorialprocess, and privacypolicy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch.)

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatmentof any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 2014 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication ordistribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

A.D.A.M.