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What do overweight and obesity mean?

Your healthy weight is based on your height, age, and other factors. Excess weight may come from muscle, bone, fat, or body water. Overweight means you weigh more than you should to be healthy. Obesity refers specifically to having too much body fat.

A higher weight or too much body fat increases your chances of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol—all of which are risk factors for heart disease. In addition, excess body fat—especially abdominal fat—may produce substances that cause inflammation, which may raise heart disease risk. Obesity can also lead to congestive heart failure, a condition in which the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs.

What causes overweight and obesity?

Many factors can affect your weight, including:

  • Eating more than your body needs to function healthfully.
  • Lack of physical activity.
  • Environment, including a stressful work schedule, lack of access to healthy foods, and lack of access to appropriate spaces for physical activity
  • Family history and genetics.
  • Health conditions, such as an underactive thyroid, and certain medicines.
  • Advancing age.
  • Lack of sleep.
  • Emotional factors, such as eating when you are bored, happy, depressed, or upset.

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