Your body is healthy when you make healthy food choices
and get enough regular cardiorespiratory exercise
like walking and climbing stairs. But if you're overweight or obese, your physical health and your self-esteem can suffer. And your weight may interfere with the activities you like to do. back to top
How do I know if I'm overweight?
People used to believe there was an "ideal" weight for every height. If you were 5'4", you were supposed to weigh X. If you were 5'0", you were supposed to weigh Y. Now we know better. The numbers on the bathroom scale don't tell you whether you are overweight. And there is no set number that says you are too thin, too heavy, or just right. Scales may be handy, but a better way to tell if your weight is healthy is to measure the proportion of fat in your body to lean body mass
. Health professionals look at your body composition
—including your muscles, bone, and body fat—for someone your age, sex, and height. Some people use a tool called the body mass index , or ??BMI??, to help decide whether they are overweight. For example, if you are a woman and your BMI is 27 to 28 or higher, you are considered overweight. back to top
What's the difference between overweight and obesity?
Health professionals use the term obesity to describe a person whose weight is 20 to 30 percent more than what is considered a healthy weight for someone of the same age, sex, and height. A BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese. back to top
What does extra weight do to your body?
Carrying extra weight puts a strain on your whole body, from your heart to your skeleton. The more overweight you are, the more likely you are to get certain diseases, like heart disease and diabetes
. Being overweight or obese can make your knees and ankles hurt too. Because our culture places too much value on being thin, being heavy can really weigh on your mind and feelings
. Those extra pounds can make it hard to exercise, which can lead you to become more inactive. The less you move and the more you eat, the heavier you become. This is the opposite of what you want to do to be fit
. back to top
What causes obesity?
There are probably as many causes for obesity as there are people. Some girls have problems with their appetite and overeat
. Other girls are born with bodies that store fat efficiently. The genes you inherited from your parents play a big part in your body shape and weight. And the habits and values you learn about eating and exercise add to the mix. You may think that obese people eat a lot of food, but that's usually not the case. Girls remain heavy and get heavier when they are unable to move around enough to burn off the calories they eat. back to top
What if I'm overweight?
If you think you are overweight or obese, talk with your health professional, your school nurse, or an adult you trust. The worst thing you can do is go on a crash diet. Restricting the foods you eat by dieting
can cause other health problems. And you'll probably end up frustrated and hungry! Your health professional can help you make a plan to start making healthy food choices
while gradually increasing your activity level. That's the safest, surest way to lose weight and get fit. back to top