According to the 2003-2004 National Center for Health Statistics survey
, almost one-third of American adults are considered obese. If the patterns of the past 20 years continue, that percentage will continue to grow. Obesity is a difficult condition to deal with, but it can be curbed or even prevented with lifestyle changes, especially where diet and physical activity are concerned. The Internet has many resources to help you research, understand, and eventually prevent or control obesity. For a Spanish-language version of the Guide, click here
Any amount of extra fat that your body has to carry can be harmful to your health, but your health is at much greater risk if you reach the point of obesity. Educating yourself about what obesity is is the first step toward preventing or controlling it in your own (or your child's) life. For a Spanish-language version of the Guide, click here.
- On many Web sites, advertisements are tailored to the audience based on the content being viewed. When viewing content about obesity on sites other than the ones listed below, you may see advertisements for weight-loss solutions, quick fixes, diet pills, or other products designed to control obesity. Be very cautious of any drug, product, or other online weight-loss system and make sure that you check with a physician about potential dangers before you buy any product or system.
For general overviews of obesity ...
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
is part of the U.S. Department of Health and furnishes this introduction to obesity. Click on a topic of interest on the left of this introduction page to get more information about issues such as health consequences, childhood overweight issues, and more. You'll also find a link to help you understand and figure out your own body mass index (BMI).
has an overview of obesity that includes what causes it, how to know if you are obese (complete with a table of healthy weight ranges for different heights), complications of obesity, treatment, and prevention.
For information specific to obesity in children ...
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
has a Childhood Overweight section that defines the problem, identifies contributing factors and possible consequences, and gives tips for parents of overweight children.
includes an Overweight and Obesity section that provides answers to questions such as "Is your child overweight?" and "What causes overweight?" Here you'll also find ways to prevent or overcome obesity. Click on one of the tabs to the right of the article and you'll find links to additional resources as well as links to related KidsHealth articles. On the left hand side of the page are links like "Emotions and Behavior," "Nutrition & Fitness," and "Recipes."
American Heart Association
provides statistics about childhood overweight in its "Overweight in Children" section. Wondering if your child might be overweight? Use the BMI calculator on the right side of the page. Visit the "Healthy Lifestyle
" link for advice on how to manage your weight through diet and fitness.
Obesity can be caused by a number of environmental and physical factors, but diagnosing obesity is somewhat more straightforward. It is best to work with your doctor to determine how much, if any, weight you need to lose but, because obesity is mainly determined by how much body fat you carry around, you can get a rough idea of where you stand weight-wise by using a few online tools.
- If you are obese, the Internet can give you plenty of information but your physician can look at your specific medical records to determine your specific cause and help you decide on a plan of action to help improve your health.
- BMI refers to your Body Mass Index; it is a measure of the relationship between your height and weight and can help determine if you are at a healthy weight for your height.
- Some Web sites offer BMI charts or calculators to help you determine if you are at a healthy weight; use these tools merely as a rough guide, but talk to you doctor to help you understand what your body mass index means (your health is not as straightforward as a simple math calculation).
For the causes of obesity ...
explains some potential causes for obesity, which include genetics, environment, age, sex, and even some medical conditions that may make you more likely to become obese.
To help you determine if you are overweight or obese ...
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
provides tools, reports, and other information to help diagnose obesity. This institute also created an Obesity Initiative Web site that has a free BMI calculator
along with information about the health consequences of overweight and obesity.
Some health conditions that can result from obesity are more apparent than others, and those who are obese can be at greater risk for certain ailments due to family history. Other conditions that result from obesity (like depression, in some cases) may not be so apparent. Many of the following sites can help you determine how obesity can affect your health.
- Many of the conditions listed below can occur in adults who are not obese, and people who are obese will not necessarily suffer from these conditions. Talk to your doctor to determine your risk for health complications.
- Often, losing even a little weight can help reduce your risk for health complications. But, as with any lifestyle change, check with your physician before starting any new exercise or diet regimen, especially if you are not currently active or if you already have a health condition such as diabetes.
Weight-control Information Network
(WIN) provides this "Do You Know the Health Risks of Being Overweight?" page that contains information about some common risks associated with overweight and obesity. For each risk, WIN provides answers to these three questions: "What is it?" "How is it linked to overweight?" and "What can weight loss do?" Some risks include Type 2 diabetes, cancer and sleep apnea, to name a few.
, The Obesity Society, provides information about the impact of obesity on your health. Use the pull-down menu titled "information" and click on "fact sheets" to find out more information about how your health is affected by obesity. This site has information about the links between obesity and cancer
, obesity and diabetes
, and more.
gives concise explanations of potential complications associated with obesity. Here you'll read about sleep apnea, fatty liver disease, stroke, and other dangerous conditions that can result from being obese.
For some, preventing or treating obesity will be more difficult than for others. But no matter who you are, there are little steps that you can take to help make sure that you achieve (and maintain) a healthier weight.
- Do not start an intense exercise routine or a drastic change in diet without consulting your physician. Use the tips on Web sites merely as suggestions or loose guidelines; each person has specific health considerations that may not be addressed by Web sites aimed at a wide audience.
To understand treatment and prevention methods for obesity ...
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
has an article, "Preventing Obesity and Chronic Diseases Through Nutrition and Physical Activity," that provides some surprising statistics about the number of overweight individuals in the U.S. as well as some tips for preventing obesity (and perhaps saving money on medical bills in the long run).
, The Obesity Society, has "The Practical Guide: Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults," a PDF guide put together with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
To help you lose or manage your weight ...
To help you manage what you eat ...
, provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, lists current nutrition recommendations from the government. Take a look at the "My Pyramid Tracker," where you can enter foods eaten and physical activity performed. The Tracker then generates a report on the nutritional adequacy of your diet and fitness.
has an overweight and weight loss section that will provide some insight about weight loss for women attempting to control or lose weight.
For online diet information ...
helps you choose a diet to suit your needs. Use the "DietFinder" by adjusting the importance of certain parts of your diet (such as eating at restaurants or having meat). You'll find reviews of diets by other users here so that you can see what other dieters like (and dislike) about each program. You have to sign up to use this site by creating a user profile, but registration is free.
is a free resource to help you plan and track your diet. Here you'll find an online community as well as articles and podcasts with information about exercise and diet. Avoid the busy advertisements for diet plans and you'll find some useful free content.
If you still want to find more information about obesity in any facet, you'll find almost everything you need online.
- Your local newspaper may cover stories about obesity in your city or state. To find the online version of your favorite paper, try adding ".com" to its name or, if that doesn't work, typing its name in a search engine.
- Medical journals can be a good source of information about any health issue. Although subscriptions to these journals can be very expensive, you can often find abstracts from articles online for free. Try searching the government site PubMed (a site provided by the National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health) for obesity-related terms to find more reading material.
from the National Library of Medicine covers the basics of obesity in its introduction on the subject, then features a large list of categorized links to help you get to information regarding your specific obesity-related interest or concern.
, The Obesity Society, presents this journal, Obesity Research, a peer-reviewed journal about developments in the field of obesity studies. Use this site to review archived medical articles on the topic.
includes a health and fitness section with an "obesity in America" report. Take a look at the interactive map that shows the rise in the percentage of obese adults in each state over the last 20 years. Select your own state to see how it has fared in the fight against fat.
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