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Overweight and obesity


Asian-Americans generally have lower rates of overweight and obesity than other groups. But that is beginning to change in some subgroups. And as rates of overweight and obesity in the United States continue to rise, all Americans are at risk.

Being overweight or obese increases your risk of:

Use this Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator to calculate your BMI.

Obesity or overweight is measured with a body mass index (BMI). The taller you are, the more weight you can carry. And shorter people can't carry as much weight. So, the BMI shows the relationship of weight to height. For instance, if you are 5 feet 4 inches tall and weigh 145 pounds, your BMI is 25. But if you are 5 feet 4 inches tall and weigh 174 pounds, your BMI is 30. Women with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 are considered overweight. Women with a BMI of 30 or more are considered obese. Some experts believe the BMI cutoffs for overweight and obesity should be lower for Asians. Research has shown that Asian populations have higher heart disease risk than Western populations at any BMI level. They also have higher rates of diabetes at "normal" BMI levels.

Talk to your doctor to find out what BMI you should aim for. If you are overweight or obese, losing weight can lower your risk of many health problems. And physical activity is one key part of weight loss and keeping a healthy weight. Health benefits are gained by doing the following each week:

  • Aerobic activity that includes:
    • 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity
      or
    • 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity
      or
    • A combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity
      and
    • Muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days of the week

This physical activity should be in addition to your routine activities of daily living, such as cleaning or spending a few minutes walking from the parking lot to your office. If weight loss is your goal, you may need to spend more time doing aerobic activity to see the effects.

Eating healthy meals that focus on portion control also plays a role in weight loss and keeping a healthy weight. If you need to lose weight, ask your doctor to help you with a weight-loss plan that includes healthy meal planning and physical activity.

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More information on Overweight and obesity

Read more from womenshealth.gov

  • Heart Healthy Eating Fact Sheet - This fact sheet provides information on how healthy eating habits can help to reduce the risk of heart disease. It explains what a healthy portion is and how to make heart-healthy food choices.
  • Overweight, Obesity, and Weight Loss Fact Sheet - This fact sheet defines obesity and explains some of the factors that contribute to becoming overweight or obese. It provides statistics on how many women are obese, explains the serious health problems associated with obesity, and discusses how obese women can lose weight to improve their health.

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Content last updated May 18, 2010.

Resources last updated May 18, 2010.

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