What is Obesity?

Overweight and obesity result from an energy imbalance. The body needs a certain amount of energy (calories) from food to keep up basic life functions. Consuming more calories than are burned leads to fat storage and thus weight gain and obesity. Obesity is a chronic condition that needs to be addressed by a physician.

Contributing Factors

Some people are simply at risk based on genetics. Food consumption patterns and behaviors also have a lot to do with weight due to quality, quantity, and frequency of food intake. Food environment can play a large role on food choices. The amount and frequency of physical activity can play a large role on weight gain. Environment affects an individual’s activity as well. Lastly, societal norms have an impact on the issue of obesity.

Prevention Methods

Having nutritious food available and affordable in food retail and food service settings allows people to make healthier food choices. When healthy foods are not available, people may settle for foods that are higher in calories and lower in nutritional value. Thus, creating and supporting healthy food environments is an important part of public health work.

There are many different strategies that can contribute to healthy food environments. These include 1) providing incentives for supermarkets or farmers’ markets to establish their businesses in underserved areas; 2) having nutrition information and caloric content on restaurant and fast food menus; and 3) applying nutrition standards in child care facilities, schools, hospitals, and worksites.

Schools and hospitals can encourage healthier choices by choosing foods that meet dietary recommendations.

Weight Management: Weight is a balancing act where calories play a large part of the equation. Weight loss is achieved by burning more calories than you take in. This can be done by reducing extra calories from food and beverages, as with a diet, or by increasing calories burned through physical activity

Obesity Diagram

Obesity Diagram
Credit: Roper St Francis

Diet: When thinking about weight loss or maintenance, there are many healthy diet plans available. You need to make sure you chose a diet plan that fits your needs and lifestyle. Make sure it consists of various foods from all major food groups, includes things you enjoy eating and can easily find the foods at your local grocery store, fits your lifestyle and budget, includes proper amounts of nutrients to lose weight safely and effectively, and regular physical activity included with the plan.

Diet & Exercise: The key to successful weight loss is developing a healthy diet and exercise plan. Diet means eating a well-balanced diet and having lower calorie meals, and exercise simply means being more physically active. Many people tend to focus on diet when trying to lose weight but being active is also an essential component of any weight loss program. When active, your body uses energy (calories) to work, helping burn calories you take in while eating.

Physical activity can be simple. Making the bed, shopping, mowing and gardening, are all forms of physical activity. Exercise, is a structured and repetitive form of physical activity that you can do on a regular basis.

It is recommended to aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity spread throughout the week.

Additional Resources

The best additional resource is to consult your primary care physician. For additional online reading, refer to:


  1. “Overweight and Obesity Statistics.” U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.
  2. Staff, By Mayo Clinic. “Weight Loss.” Weight-loss Basics. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.
  3. “Healthy Food Environments.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22 Oct. 2015. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.
  4. Roper St Francis. “Obesity and Diseases.” Roper St Francis Health Hub. N.p., 20 Aug. 2014. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.


If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at or 1-888-656-9988.

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