Let's Talk About Obesity

We've got the doctor-approved details on obesity causes, symptoms, treatments, and a jillion other facts and tips for living with the condition.

    Our Pro PanelObesity

    We went to some of the nation's top experts on obesity to bring you the most up-to-date information possible.

    Angela Fitch, M.D.

    Angela Fitch, M.D.Associate Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Weight Center, Vice President of the Obesity Medicine Association

    Boston, MA
    Sara N. Bleich, Ph.D.

    Sara N. Bleich, Ph.D.Professor of Public Health Policy

    Harvard Chan School of Public Health
    Boston, MA
    John Kirwan, Ph.D.

    John Kirwan, Ph.D.Executive Director

    Louisiana State University's Pennington Biomedical Research Center
    Baton Rouge, LA
    Obesity statistics by the numbers, including obesity definition, child obesity, and obesity in Americans.
    Nikki Cagle
    Common conditions related to obesity include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, cancer, and premature death.
    Nikki Cagle
    Obesity treatments include lifestyle changes, prescribed nutrition, medication, and surgery.
    Nikki Cagle

    Frequently Asked QuestionsObesity

    What causes obesity?

    There's no single, isolated factor that determines whether a person will develop obesity. Rather, it’s caused by a complex interplay of biological, psychological, and environmental triggers—everything from calorie consumption and genetics to socioeconomics and medications a person takes. Despite the way obesity is often portrayed, it is not caused by a lack of willpower.

    What defines obesity?

    Get your calculator ready. Obesity is defined using a relatively simple mathematical equation: Weight (in kilograms) / Height (in meters) squared = Body Mass Index. Most doctors consider an adult Body Mass Index, or BMI, of 30 or more to be obese. In words, obesity can be defined as a diagnosable medical condition that occurs when an individual’s body accumulates and stores excess amounts of body fat.

    Can you die from obesity?

    Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. According to a recent study published in the International Journal of Obesity, people who have obesity live 5.6 to 7.6 fewer years than their healthy-weight counterparts.

    What’s the difference between overweight and obese?

    From a BMI POV, someone who is overweight has BMI of 25.0 to 29.9, while a person with a BMI of 30 or more is considered to have obesity. Both conditions have the potential to pave the way towards similar health concerns.

    Leslie Goldman

    Leslie Goldman


    Leslie Goldman is a health and wellness writer who regularly contributes feature stories and essays to various publications.