Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook
Search NetWellness

Obesity and Weight Management


Today, more than ever, healthy eating and regular physical activity are important for acquiring and maintaining good health. With approximately 2/3 of American adults and 9 million children and adolescents between the ages of 6 and 19 either overweight or obese, overweight and obesity have become the fastest growing epidemics affecting Americans today.* This epidemic cuts across all segments of society, regardless of age, race, ethnic group, or gender. (*Based on results from the 1999-2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)).

People who suffer from overweight and obesity are at increased risk for a number of health-related problems, including:


The rapidly growing epidemic of adult overweight and obesity is showing no sign of stopping. For an adult to be considered overweight, his/her Body Mass Index (BMI), or weight-to-height relationship, must be 25-29.9. To be considered obese, an adult must have a BMI of 30 or greater. According to the American Public Health Association (APHA), overweight and obesity are associated with 300,000 deaths each year in the United States. The APHA also reported that in 2000, the economic cost of overweight and obesity in the United States exceeded $115 billion dollars. Tremendous cost and health consequences are likely to result if these epidemics are not controlled.


The encouraging aspect of these serious health problems is that the most prevalent causes of adult overweight and obesity - excessive calorie consumption and inadequate physical activity- are also the most controllable. According to The National Institute of Health, a reduction of 10% body weight in an overweight or obese person can significantly decrease the severity of obesity-associated risk factors. A 10% reduction in weight has been shown to improve glycemic control, blood pressure, serum cholesterol level, sleep apnea, and osteoarthritis.* (*Based on results from the World Health Initiative, 1998). The American Public Health Association offers the following suggestions for healthy eating and active living:


The trend in childhood obesity/overweight has been rising since 1965 and shows no sign of stopping. (Figure 1.) For a child to be considered overweight, his Body Mass Index (BMI)-for-age ranks him at or above the 95th percentile on the 2000 National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) BMI-for-age-growth charts for the United States. Children with a BMI-for-age above the 95th percentile are not only more likely to carryover their undesirable weight into adulthood, but are at greater risk for acquiring disease during childhood.


The rising trend in overweight in U.S. children mirrors that being seen in the adult U.S. population As the number of overweight children in the US increases, so can we expect to see an increase in the prevalence of obesity in adults. The obvious concern is that our overweight children are at increased risk for obesity-related diseases like:

Of immediate concern is that these diseases, historically considered "adult diseases," are showing up more and more in our children.

All children, healthy, underweight, overweight, and obese must be handled with care when approaching any kind of weight maintenance. No matter a child's size, health professionals must take into account proper nutrition to support normal growth. At every age, children have differing activity levels, and growth rates. The goal is to allow for enough energy to support growth by preserving lean body mass and storing adequate energy in the form of adipose tissue (fat) for times of growth.

For more information:

Go to the Obesity and Weight Management health topic, where you can:

Last Reviewed: Jun 30, 2003

Team Leader of Comprehensive Weight Management
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University

Staff Dietitian
Center for Wellness and Prevention
Clinical Instructor
School of Allied Medical Professionals
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University

Extension Nutrition Associate
College of Education and Human Ecology
The Ohio State University