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Weighing the Factors of Weight Issues for Women

Over 60 percent of U.S. adult women are overweight, according to estimates from the National Center for Health Statistics of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Over one-third of overweight adult women are considered obese.

What causes someone to become overweight or obese?

Many factors can play a role. These factors include:

  • Behaviors, such as eating too many calories or not getting enough physical activity
  • Environment and culture
  • Genes

What are the health effects of being overweight or obese?

Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Breathing problems
  • Arthritis
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Some kinds of cancer

But excess body weight isn't the only health risk. The places where you store your body fat also affect your health. Women with a "pear" shape tend to store fat in their hips and buttocks. Women with an "apple" shape store fat around their waists. If your waist is more than 35 inches, you may have a higher risk of weight-related health problems.

What is the best way to lose weight?

Before you start a weight-loss program, talk to your doctor.

Safe weight-loss programs that work well do the following:

  • Set a goal of slow and steady weight loss — 1 to 2 pounds per week
  • Offer low-calorie eating plans with a wide range of healthy foods
  • Encourage you to be more physically active
  • Teach you about healthy eating and physical activity
  • Adapt to your likes and dislikes and cultural background
  • Help you keep weight off after you lose it

Regular activity can help prevent unhealthy weight gain and also help with weight loss, when combined with lower calorie intake. If you are overweight or obese, losing weight can lower your risk for many diseases, but regular physical activity can also improve your cardiorespiratory (heart, lungs, and blood vessels) and muscular fitness.

Physical activity may also help:

  • Improve functional health for older adults
  • Reduce waistline size
  • Lower risk of hip fracture
  • Lower risk of lung cancer
  • Lower risk of endometrial cancer
  • Maintain weight after weight loss
  • Increase bone density
  • Improve sleep quality

Talk to Dr. Strebel or Dr. Grolle about what your healthy weight should be at your next appointment.

Read more at WomensHealth.gov