55: How does being overweight or obese affect a persons health?
When people are overweight or obese, they are more likely to develop health problems such as the following:Hypertension
Dyslipidemia (for example, high total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides)Type 2 diabetes, Coronary heart
disease, Stroke, Gallbladder disease, Osteoarthritis, Sleep apnea and respiratory problems.
Some cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)The more overweight a person is, the more likely that person is to have
health problems. Among people who are overweight and obese, weight loss can help reduce the chances of developing these
Studies show that if a person is overweight or obese, reducing body weight by 5 percent to 10 percent can improve ones
To stay healthy, avoid disease, and prevent weight gain, the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating a
diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nonfat dairy products. Watch how many calories you eat, pay attention
to serving size, limit alcohol, and cut back on foods high in salt, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and added
Activity is also an important part of the picture. The guidelines suggest a minimum of 30 minutes of activity per day
to reduce disease risk and 60 to 90 minutes per day to maintain or lose weight.
These guidelines, developed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the United States Department of
Health and Human Services (HHS), are updated every 5 years to promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases.
Recommendations include the following: Get enough nutrients within your calorie needsEat and drink a variety of foods
that are high in nutrients from within and among the basic food groups (dairy, grains, fruits, vegetables, meats and
beans, and oils) while choosing foods that limit your intake of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars,
salt, and alcohol.
Eat only the calories you need to maintain your weight by following a balanced eating pattern, such as the USDA Food
Guide or the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Eating Plan. The number of calories you need each day
depends on your age, gender, and activity level.
To maintain a healthy weight, balance calories from food and drinks with the amount of calories you burn. To prevent
gradual weight gain over time, make small decreases in calories from food and drink and increase activity. Get regular
physical activity and limit sedentary activities to promote health, psychological well-being, and a healthy body weight.
To reduce the risk of chronic disease in adulthood, do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity
above your usual activity at work or home on most days of the week. For most people, exercising longer and more
intensively will provide even greater health benefits.
To manage weight and prevent gradual, unhealthy weight gain as an adult, do about 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous
activity most days of the week while not exceeding calorie needs. To sustain weight loss in adulthood, do at least 60
to 90 minutes of daily moderate-intensity physical activity while not exceeding calorie needs. You may need to check
with your doctor before doing this much activity.
Achieve physical fitness by including cardiovascular (aerobic) conditioning, stretching exercises for flexibility, and
resistance exercises or calisthenics for muscle strength and endurance. Eat enough fruits and vegetables while staying
within your calorie needs. Two cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables per day are recommended for someone who needs
2,000 calories daily to maintain weight.
Higher or lower amounts may be needed depending on how many calories per day you need. Choose a variety of fruits and
vegetables each day. In particular, select from all five vegetable subgroups (dark green, orange, legumes, starchy
vegetables, and others) several times per week.
Eat 3 or more ounce-equivalents of whole-grain products per day. At least half of your grain requirements should come
from whole grains. Have 3 cups of nonfat or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products per day. (Equivalents are for 1
cup: 1 cup low-fat yogurt, 1 1/2 oz of low-fat or nonfat cheese, 2 oz of low-fat or nonfat processed cheese.) Saturated
fats: Get less than 10% of calories each day from saturated fats and less than 300 mg per day of cholesterol. Keep the
amount of trans fats (hydrogenated oils) you eat as low as possible.
Total fat intake: Keep your total fat intake between 20% and 35% of your calories, with most fats coming from
polyunsaturated and monounsaturated oils found in fish, nuts, and olive, canola, and other vegetable oils. When
choosing meat, poultry, and milk products, choose lean, low-fat, or nonfat. Limit your intake of fats and oils high in
saturated and/or trans fatty acids, and choose products low in such fats and oils.
Choose fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains often. Choose and prepare foods and drinks with little added
sugars or caloric sweeteners. Reduce cavities by practicing good oral hygiene and eating foods and beverages with sugar
and starch less frequently. Limit sodium to less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day (less than 1 teaspoon per day).
Choose and prepare foods with little salt, and eat potassium-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables. If you choose
to drink alcoholic beverages, do so sensibly and in moderation; 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for
men. Not everyone should drink alcoholic beverages. Don't drink alcohol if you cannot restrict or control your intake,
are or could become pregnant or are breast-feeding, are taking medications that may react with alcohol, or have certain
Children and adolescents should not drink alcoholic beverages. Don't drink alcoholic beverages if you are doing
activities that require attention, skill, or coordination, such as driving or operating machinery.