How Overweight and Obesity Impacts Your Health

Key points

  • Overweight or obesity are associated with an increased risk for many serious diseases and health conditions.
  • Body mass index (BMI) can be used to screen for weight status.
Person's feet on home scales.


People who have overweight or obesity, compared to those with healthy weight, are at increased risk for many serious diseases and health conditions123456.

These include:

  • All-cause mortality (early death)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension).
  • High or low LDL cholesterol and high levels of triglycerides (dyslipidemia).
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Coronary heart disease.
  • Stroke.
  • Gallbladder disease.
  • Osteoarthritis.
  • Sleep apnea and breathing problems.
  • Many types of cancers.
  • Lower quality of life.
  • Mental illness such as clinical depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders.
  • Body pain and difficulty with physical functioning.

Body mass index (BMI) is a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. BMI is an inexpensive and easy screening method for weight category.

For people 20 and older, overweight is defined as a body mass index (BMI) from 25 to 30. Obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher.

For people 2 to 19 years, BMI is defined using age- and sex- specific percentiles from the CDC Growth Charts. Overweight is defined as a BMI from the 85th percentile to the 95th. Obesity is defined as a BMI at the 95th percentile or higher.

See the BMI calculator for people 20 and older and the BMI calculator for people ages 2 to 19.


What Are Overweight and Obesity?
Overweight and obesity are common conditions in the United States.

  1. Managing overweight and obesity in adults: systematic evidence review from the obesity expert panel. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). November 2013. Accessed 25 April 2024.
  2. Clinical guidelines on the identification, evaluation, and treatment of overweight and obesity in adults. NHLBI. September 1998. No. 98-4083. Accessed 25 April 2024.
  3. Bhaskaran K, Douglas I, Forbes H, dos-Santos-Silva I, Leon DA, Smeeth L. Body-mass index and risk of 22 specific cancers: a population-based cohort study of 5·24 million UK adults. Lancet. 2014;384(9945):755-765. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(14)60892-8
  4. Kasen S, Cohen P, Chen H, Must A. Obesity and psychopathology in women: a three decade prospective study. Int J Obes. 2008;32(3):558-566. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0803736
  5. Luppino FS, de Wit LM, Bouvy PF, et al. Overweight, obesity, and depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010;67(3):220-229. doi: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2010.2
  6. Roberts RE, Deleger S, Strawbridge WJ, Kaplan GA. Prospective association between obesity and depression: evidence from the Alameda County Study. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003;27(4):514-521. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0802204