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Obesity in adults: Overview of management

George A Bray, MD
Leigh Perreault, MD
Section Editors
F Xavier Pi-Sunyer, MD, MPH
Timothy O Lipman, MD
Deputy Editor
Kathryn A Martin, MD


The morbidity and mortality associated with being overweight or obese have been known to the medical profession since the time of Hippocrates more than 2500 years ago. Overweight refers to a weight above the "normal" range, with normal defined on the basis of actuarial data. This is determined by calculating the body mass index (BMI, defined as the weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared). Overweight is defined as a BMI of 25 to 29.9 kg/m2; obesity is defined as a BMI of ≥30 kg/m2. Severe obesity is defined as a BMI ≥40 kg/m2 (or ≥35 kg/m2 in the presence of comorbidities). Although these categorical definitions are clinically useful, it is clear that the risks imparted by increasing body mass follow a continuum.

An overview of the management of obesity is provided here. Information on screening, evaluation, health hazards associated with obesity, and specific therapies are reviewed in detail elsewhere.

(See "Obesity in adults: Prevalence, screening, and evaluation".)

(See "Obesity in adults: Health hazards".)

(See "Obesity in adults: Dietary therapy".)


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Aug 30, 2016.
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