Defining Adult Overweight & Obesity

by James Brown

Updated November 9, 2023


In a world where health becomes increasingly central to our discussions, terms like 'overweight' and 'obesity' frequently pop up. They're not just medical jargon but real, impactful conditions many adults face. We're here to break it all down—from definitions, measurements, prevalence, to risks.

What are Overweight and Obesity?

Carrying excess weight isn't merely about aesthetics. Overweight and obesity signify a weight range higher than what health experts deem healthy for a given height. It's all about the balance between the intake and burning of calories, and more also the balance of well-being and potential health risks. Here is where Body Mass Index comes in.

All About BMI: Your Weight-Height Relationship

The Body Mass Index, popularly known as BMI is a measurement that uses your weight and height to estimate overweight and obesity. Imagine a snapshot, a quick glance, into the relationship between your weight and height. By dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared, you get this magic number. A BMI over 25? That's in the overweight territory. 

Over 30? That’s leaning into obesity. But remember, it's a general guide. Variations in muscle mass, bone density, and overall body composition mean that BMI isn't the whole picture. And for a more visual understanding, here is formulae from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) on how BMI is calculated.

weight (lb) / [height (in)]2 x 703

Overweight and Obesity Prevalence

The prevalence of overweight and obesity might just stun you. We're seeing a global trend, with numbers soaring in many regions. From hectic urban lifestyles, processed food consumption, to genetics—many factors are pushing the scales (literally). But beyond statistics are stories, personal health journeys, and individual battles against the bulge.

In the United States, the scales tip toward excess weight for many over the age of 20. Insights drawn from the 2017–2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reveal a rather striking picture:

●Around 31% of adults find themselves in the overweight bracket.
●Obesity is an issue for over 42% of the adult population, with severe obesity affecting approximately 9%.

Health Risks that come with Overweight and Obesity

When you're carrying extra weight, it's not just about looking a certain way or what the scale says. Imagine having a heavy backpack, not on your back, but on your health. Inside, you'll find heart issues like type 2 diabetes, and even a chance of strokes and certain cancers. On the heart and soul side of things, it’s like this constant rain cloud, making you anxious, a bit blue, and sometimes taking a jab at your self-worth. Our entire healthcare system is groaning under this weight. Medical bills skyrocket, and frankly, life just doesn’t sparkle as much for a lot of people.

Having too much weight, particularly around your midsection, can up your chances of facing a myriad of health issues. However, hitting and maintaining a weight that's right for you can halt these issues, improve them, or even make them disappear entirely. This isn't just a casual observation; (National Institute of Kidney and Digestive Diseases )


To truly grasp overweight and obesity, we have to look beyond the scales. It's about understanding the deeper implications, the risks, and the tools like BMI that help us navigate these waters. Knowledge is our beacon, leading us to informed decisions, healthier choices, and ultimately, a better quality of life.


Must, A., Spadano, J., Coakley, E. H., Field, A. E., Colditz, G., & Dietz, W. H. (1999). The disease burden associated with overweight and obesity. Jama, 282(16), 1523-1529.

Ogden, C. L., Carroll, M. D., Curtin, L. R., McDowell, M. A., Tabak, C. J., & Flegal, K. M. (2006). Prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States, 1999-2004. Jama, 295(13), 1549-1555.

Guo, S. S., Wu, W., Chumlea, W. C., & Roche, A. F. (2002). Predicting overweight and obesity in adulthood from body mass index values in childhood and adolescence. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 76(3), 653-658.

May, A. L., Freedman, D., Sherry, B., Blanck, H. M., & Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2013). Obesity—United States, 1999–2010. MMWR Surveill Summ, 62(Suppl 3), 120-8.

Leonard, J., Heimbach, J. K., Malinchoc, M., Watt, K., & Charlton, M. (2008). The impact of obesity on long-term outcomes in liver transplant recipients—results of the NIDDK liver transplant database. American journal of transplantation, 8(3), 667-672.
Article by
James Brown
Hello,I'm James, an editor at BeWellFinder, where I'm dedicated to sharing my expertise to provide you with valuable insights.

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