Your health and your weight are connected. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if your body mass index falls into the range of overweight or obese, you are at a higher risk for the following diseases and conditions:
- Coronary heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes for women during pregnancy
- Cancers (endometrial, breast, gallbladder, kidney, liver, and colon)
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
- Dyslipidemia (high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, high blood triglycerides)
- Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
What Does "At Risk" Mean?
Being "at risk" means you are more likely to have a specific disease or condition than someone who has a BMI in the normal weight range. It does not mean you will get the disease.
BMI is one screening tool — it’s a measure of body weight in relation to height. To assess your actual health risk, your healthcare provider will look at many factors.
For example, if your doctor is concerned you might have a heart attack, he or she will want to know several things in addition to your BMI:
- Do you have a family history of heart disease?
- Do you smoke cigarettes?
- How much physical activity do you get every day?
- How much saturated fat, dietary fiber and sodium do you consume?
Your doctor also will likely run other tests, such as a blood pressure check and lab tests. Collecting all of this information is the only way to make an accurate assessment of your health risk and to diagnose a condition such as coronary heart disease.
Lifestyle Changes Make a Big Difference
If your doctor says your BMI is in the overweight range and you have high blood pressure, the doctor may prescribe medication and suggest you make changes in your lifestyle. You may be told to lose weight, adopt a healthier eating style and get more physical activity.
Here's some really good news: Those lifestyle changes – eating smarter and moving more – may reduce your risk and help you feel better, too.