From the Office on Women's Health
Being overweight or obese increases your risk of:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Breathing problems
- Gallbladder disease
- Sleep apnea
- Some cancers
Obesity or overweight is measured with a body mass index (BMI). The taller you are, the more weight you can carry. And shorter people can't carry as much weight. So, the BMI shows the relationship of weight to height. For instance, if you are 5 feet 4 inches tall and weigh 145 pounds, your BMI is 25. But if you are 5 feet 4 inches tall and weigh 174 pounds, your BMI is 30.
Women with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 are considered overweight. Women with a BMI of 30 or more are considered obese. All people 18 years or older who have a BMI of 25 or more are at risk of early death and disability from being overweight or obese. These health risks increase as the BMI rises.
African-American women have the highest rates overweight and obesity compared to other groups in the United States. About 4 in 5 African-American women are overweight or obese.
About 3 in 4 Mexican-American women are overweight or obese. Mexican-American women make up the largest portion of Latinas in the United States. Another problem is that nearly 6 in 10 Latinas are not physically active, making it harder to keep a healthy weight.
Asian-Americans generally have lower rates of overweight and obesity than other groups. But that is beginning to change in some subgroups. And as rates of overweight and obesity in the United States continue to rise, all Americans are at risk.
Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders have high rates of overweight and obesity. This contributes to the high rates of health problems common in this group.
American Indian and Alaska Native women are more likely than white women to be obese. In fact, less than half of American Indian and Alaska Native women are at a healthy weight. One reason is that Native diets tend to be higher in fat and calories than they used to be. Physical activity has also decreased.