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Obesity screenings & Counseling

Obesity means having too much body fat. It is different from being overweight, which means weighing too much. The weight may come from muscle, bone, fat, and/or body water. Both terms mean that a person's weight is greater than what's considered healthy for his or her height. Your body mass index is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms (kg) by your height in meters (m) squared.


Weight Status

Below 18.5







Obese (Class I)


Obese (Class II)

40.0 and higher

Extreme obesity (Class III)

Calculate Your BMI

If you're obese, you're more likely to develop health problems, including:

  • High cholesterol
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Metabolic syndrome — a combination of high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Breathing disorders
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Gynecological problems
  • Erectile dysfunction and sexual health issues
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition in which fat builds up in the liver and can cause inflammation or scarring
  • Osteoarthritis

Who is at risk

Children and adolescents: parental obesity, unhealthy diet, low levels of physical activity, lack of sleep, and low family income.

Younger children: maternal diabetes, maternal smoking, gestational weight gain, and rapid infant growth.

Adults: age, genetic makeup, unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle, medical problems, certain medications, lack of sleep and low family income.

What you can do

  • Get more exercise.
  • Eat a healthier diet.
  • Understand what triggers out-of-control eating.
  • Talk to your doctor if you take medications that cause weight gain.

Ways to Burn More Calories Every Day

Preventive service at no cost

Children and adolescents 6 years and older

The USPSTF recommends that clinicians screen for obesity in children and adolescents 6 years and older and offer or refer them to comprehensive, intensive behavioral interventions to promote improvements in weight status.


The USPSTF recommends that clinicians offer or refer adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher (calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared) to intensive, multicomponent behavioral interventions.

Why screening is important

Obesity in children and adolescents may be associated with other conditions such as mental health and psychological issues, asthma, obstructive sleep apnea, orthopedic problems, and high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance. Children and adolescents also may experience teasing and bullying behaviors based on their weight. Obesity in childhood and adolescence may continue into adulthood and lead to adverse cardiovascular outcomes or other obesity-related morbidity, such as type 2 diabetes.

Obesity in adults may be associated with health problems such as coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, various types of cancer, gallstones, and disability. Obesity is also associated with an increased risk for death, particularly among adults younger than 65 years.

What the screening is

Body mass index measurement is the recommended screening test for obesity. Body mass index percentile is plotted on growth charts, such as those developed by the CDC, which are based on US-specific, population-based norms. There are separate charts for adults and for children 2 years and older.

Intensive behavioral weight loss interventions generally last for 1 to 2 years, with 12 or more sessions in the first year. Interventions encourage self-monitoring of weight and provide tools to support weight loss or weight loss maintenance. Intervention plans may depend on tailoring interventions to social, environmental, and individual factors.

Guide to Behavior Change


Weight-management therapists and counselors can help you with the emotions of changing lifestyles.

There are different types of weight loss surgery. They often limit the amount of food you can take in. Some types of surgery also affect how you digest food and absorb nutrients. All types have risks and complications, such as infections, hernias, and blood clots.

Many people who have the surgery lose weight quickly, but regain some weight later on. If you follow diet and exercise recommendations, you can keep most of the weight off. You will also need medical follow-up for the rest of your life.

Weight Loss Surgery

Additional resources