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Your Environment. Your Health.

Obesity

Introduction

doctor measuring obese man's waist

Obesity

Millions of Americans and people worldwide are overweight or obese. Obesity is a complex health disorder that affects both adults and children. Childhood obesity is a serious problem in the United States. Obesity means having too much body fat. Obesity occurs over time when a person eats more calories than they can use.

Being obese puts people at risk for many health problems. The more body fat a person has and the more they weigh, the more likely they are to develop diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, breathing problems, and some cancers.

Gaining weight and becoming obese is the result of many factors. These factors can include your environment, family history and genetics, metabolism or the way your body changes food and oxygen into energy, behavior or habits, and more. Scientists are even beginning to explore the idea that some chemicals in the environment may be playing in the growing obesity problem.

The good news is that even modest weight loss can improve or prevent many of the health problems associated with obesity. Dietary changes, increased physical activity and behavior changes are all things that can help people lose weight.

Fact Sheets

Obesity and the Environment (862KB) (NIEHS Fact Sheet)

What is NIEHS Doing?

NIEHS Research Efforts

Further Reading

Stories from the Environmental Factor (NIEHS Newsletter)

Additional Resources

  • Healthy People 2020 - Healthy People provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans.
  • Obesity - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Adult Obesity Facts
  • Obesity - NIH National Library of Medicine - links and definitions about obesity.
  • Physical Wellness Toolkit - Watching what you put into your body, how much activity you get, and your weight are important for keeping your body working properly. Positive physical health habits can help decrease your stress, lower your risk of disease, and increase your energy. 
  • Social Wellness Toolkit - From the time you’re born, your relationships help you learn to navigate the world. You learn how to interact with others, express yourself, conduct everyday health habits, and be a part of different communities from those around you. Positive social habits can help you build support systems and stay healthier mentally and physically.
Content courtesy of the National Cancer Institute (NCI)

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