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 Obesity Versus Overweight


Lt Col Phillips
Today, as many as two-thirds of American adults are considered overweight or obese.[1] Dr. Bethea, what is the difference between being overweight and being obese?

Dr. Bethea
Well, Dr. Phillips, a general definition for obesity is when the amount of body weight due to the accumulation of fat leads to the risk of serious medical problems. On the other hand, an adult is considered overweight when they weigh more than what is considered to be healthy. It’s important to note that, like obesity, being overweight can lead to serious medical issues as well.

The difference between being overweight and being obese is determined by body mass index, or BMI. Using a formula that factors a person’s weight to height ratio, this index provides a good estimate of body fat.

Someone who is of a normal weight generally has a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9, which means that anything below 18.5 is defined as underweight. On the other hand, someone who is overweight has a BMI of 25.0 to 29.9, while an obese person has a BMI of 30.0 and above.

Obesity can be further broken down into three levels. Adults who are classified as Obese Level One have a BMI of 30.0 to 34.9. Those classified as Obese Level Two have a BMI of 35.0 to 39.9. Adults with a BMI of over 40.0 are classified as Obese Level Three. As the obesity classification level increases, the disease risk increases as well.

[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Obesity and Overweight,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,, accessed July 7, 2016.