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Overweight & Obesity

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Last updated September 2, 2022

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Get a thorough self-assessment before your visit to the doctor.

Care Plan

1

First steps to consider

  • Dietary changes and exercise can often help with weight loss.
  • Consider support groups or online weight loss apps to provide structure and accountability.
2

When you may need a provider

  • You calculate that your BMI is more than 35
  • You get tired easily, have muscle, joint, or back pain, or are not getting a good night’s sleep.
  • You feel you need help from a weight loss coach or program.
  • You are following a good diet and exercise program but haven’t lost any weight after 6 months.

Emergency Care

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Go to the ER if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Slurring of speech

What is overweight and obesity?

Being overweight means that you have extra weight, from a combination of muscle, bone, and fat. Obesity is having a lot of extra fat. Being overweight or obese is based on your body mass index (BMI), which is based on your height and weight. A normal BMI is between 19–24. If you have a BMI of 25-29, you are considered “overweight.” And if you have a BMI of over 30, you are considered “obese.” According to the CDC, more than one in three Americans are obese.

The National Institutes of Health offers a free online BMI calculator.

Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for many chronic health conditions. Trying to maintain a healthy weight is important for your overall health and wellbeing.

Dr. Rx

There’s a stigma associated with overweight and obesity unlike other chronic medical conditions. The incorrect perspective is to label a person as “obese.” The correct way of thinking should be that an individual “suffers from obesity.” —Dr. Taher Gulamhusein

Symptoms that may occur with overweight and obesity

There are many health problems that can happen along with being overweight and obese. Because of the increased weight, your organs have to work harder. When organs are in “overdrive,” it can lead to health problems.

The most common health problems from overweight and obesity are:

Because obesity can cause so many different health problems, people can have many different kinds of symptoms. Sometimes, you don’t even realize that the symptoms you’re having are because of your weight. These can include:

  • Headaches (from high blood pressure)
  • Varicose veins (from swelling of the legs)
  • Feeling tired all the time and daytime sleepiness (from sleep apnea)
  • Snoring at night (from sleep apnea)
  • Heartburn (from the increased weight of your belly)
  • Chest pain (from heart disease, high cholesterol, and difficulty breathing)
  • Bone, knee, back, and muscle pain (because your body is carrying more weight)
  • Feeling sad, having low self-esteem or lack of self-worth (from depression)
  • Inability to get pregnant (because of changes in hormones)

Pro Tip

It is important to have an honest discussion with your doctor about what options are right for you. There is no “one size fits all” approach to the treatment of overweight and obesity. —Dr. Gulamhusein

What are 5 signs of overweight and obesity?

  • Usually, the first thing you notice is that your clothes don’t fit the same way that they used to.
  • People with overweight or obesity may get tired much faster than they used to. People will often say that they can’t exercise the way they used to, climb up and down the stairs, run their errands, or even just keep up with their kids.
  • After lots of activity, the knees, back, and muscles hurt because the increased weight is harder on the body.
  • If you have obesity, you may start to feel short of breath even if you haven’t done much. Everyday tasks like getting in and out of cars, simple daily hygiene, or even tying your shoelaces can become difficult.
  • People with overweight or obesity often have poor quality sleep, sometimes because of sleep apnea.

Pro Tip

Overweight and obesity are diseases that require treatment just like any other medical problem. —Dr. Gulamhusein

Causes

Overweight and obesity have many causes.

  • Genetics. If your family members are overweight, your genes may put you at higher risk of gaining weight.
  • Your environment, including the diet and lifestyle habits you grew up with or currently have. This includes the types of food you eat, how often you eat, and how much you exercise.
  • Your metabolism (the way your body uses energy) is a factor. It is often based on genetics and your fitness level.
  • Other factors like mental health and other health conditions may also play a role in being overweight.

Treatment

You can often manage overweight and obesity at home though you may need treatments recommended by a healthcare provider. Learn about diet and exercise strategies and when you may need to see a provider. 

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Preventative tips

The best way to prevent obesity is to eat a healthy and balanced diet and exercise regularly.

  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, which are good sources of fiber and healthy carbohydrates.
  • Choose whole wheat bread, brown rice, and whole grain pasta, which take longer to digest and have more nutrients than white bread, white rice, and potatoes.
  • Eat less red meat like beef and choose leaner protein like chicken and fish.
  • Try to exercise for about 45 minutes per day, 4–5 times a week.
  • See a healthcare provider for a yearly physical exam. They will be able to notice small health problems before they become serious.
Share your story
Dr. Gulamhusein is a board-certified general surgeon and fellowship trained bariatric surgeon. He received his undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Texas (2009) and graduated from The University of Texas at Southwestern in Dallas (2013) for his medical degree. He completed a general surgery residency program at SUNY Stony Brook University Hospital (2018). This was followed by...
Read full bio

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