Obesity is a medical condition that means an individual has an excess amount of body fat. This could be caused by a combination of factors such as environment, personal diet, other health conditions, genetics, and exercise choices. Obesity can increase your risk of other medical conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and some types of cancer.

People Affected

Obesity affects around 42% of adult Americans. Other trends include: 

  • Race: The statistics for patients with obesity by race are as follows according to the CDC: Non-Hispanic Blacks (49.6%). Hispanics (44%), non-Hispanic whites (42%), and non-Hispanic Asians (17.4%)

  • Age: Around 18.5% of children are categorized as obese in the United States. In comparison, around 42% of U.S. adults are considered obese.

  • Gender: Men and women experience obesity at similar rates, with 38% of women and 34% of men in the U.S. identified as obese.

Risk Factors

There are a wide variety of risk factors that can cause obesity, including:

  • Family history:  Genetics might affect where body fat is stored and how that fat is distributed in addition to how your body regulates appetites and burns calories. 

  • Unhealthy diet: A diet high in calories, fast food, sugar, and oversized portions can lead to excessive weight gain. 

  • Alcohol and soft drinks: Referred to as “liquid calories,” these drinks can contribute to weight gain. 

  • Insufficient exercise: This means a lack of exercise, whether due to work, hours spent sedentary, or other medical conditions that might make exercise difficult. 

  • Other medical conditions: Prader-Willi syndrome, Cushing syndrome, and conditions such as arthritis have all been linked to obesity before. 

  • Certain medications: Some anti-depressants, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, diabetes drugs, beta-blockers, and steroids have been linked with weight gain. 

  • Pregnancy: The weight gained during pregnancy can be difficult to lose, and it may contribute to obesity. Breastfeeding can help offset this. 

  • Smoking: Smoking can contribute to weight gain. 

  • Insufficient sleep: This can affect the hormones that regulate your appetite, leading to cravings for high-calorie foods. 

  • Stress: Stress can also lead to cravings for high-calorie foods. 

  • Yo-yo dieting: This refers to the phenomenon of losing weight and then rapidly regaining that weight, which can slow your metabolism down overall.

Signs & Symptoms

Diabetes can raise your risk for the following symptoms and complications:  

  • heart disease and strokes

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • cancers of the uterus, cervix, endometrium, ovaries, breasts, colon, rectum, esophagus, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidneys, and prostate

  • digestive problems

  • Gynecological and sexual problems

  • sleep apnea

  • osteoarthritis 

  • depression

Medical Experts

Primary Care Physician: Your general doctor might be able to diagnose and manage obesity. 

Bariatrician: Bariatricians are doctors that help you lose weight non-surgically.


To diagnose obesity, your primary doctor might perform a general exam and calculate your body mass index (BMI). A BMI of 30 or higher is diagnosed as obesity. Your doctor may also measure your waist circumference. Greater than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men can pose a health risk. Lastly, you may also go through some blood tests.

Prescription Treatment

Alongside a healthy diet and regular exercise, you may be prescribed a weight-loss medication. These drugs help reduce feelings of hunger to help you eat less. Some examples include diethylpropion (Tenuate) and phentermine (Ionamin, Adipex-P).

Lifestyle Remedies

There are many changes you can make to both prevent and help manage obesity. All of these tips are focused on healthy weight loss: 

  • Exercise at least 150 to 300 minutes each week. This should be at moderate-intensity. 

  • Eat a healthy diet that incorporates plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Try to limit saturated fats, sweets, alcohol. 

  • Monitor your weight. Try to weigh yourself once a week so that you know if your efforts are working.