Concept of overweight - a woman holding a doughnut while standing on a scale

When is Being Overweight Harmful?

• Being overweight is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 25-29.9 

• The risks associated with being overweight include heart disease & stroke, diabetes, certain cancers, and joint pain & osteoarthritis. 

• To reduce your risk of becoming overweight, talk to your doctor about weight management and make changes to your diet. 

• Incorporate an hour of moderate-intensity exercise five days a week to reduce fat.

You may have heard people talk about the dangers of being overweight or seen ads on TV warning against it. But when does being overweight become a real health concern? Do you first need to be obese to be at risk? This blog post will discuss what constitutes being overweight and its potential risks so that you can make an informed decision about your health.

What Is Considered “Overweight”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines an adult as “overweight” if their body mass index (BMI) is between 25 and 29.9. The BMI is calculated by taking your weight in kilograms divided by your height in meters squared. Simply put, if your BMI falls into this range, you are considered a bit heavier than the average person. For someone considered “obese,” your BMI would be 30 or higher.

Additionally, being overweight can be determined by waist circumference. The definition of an unhealthy waist size is different for men and women, as follows:

For Men: 40 inches (102 cm) or greater

For Women (non-pregnant): 35 inches (88 cm) or greater

The Risks of Being Overweight

Being overweight increases your risk for several health issues. This is due to the extra body fat trapping toxins and hormones and interfering with the healthy function of other organs. It is also likely that people who are overweight have less muscle mass than healthy ones, leading to weaker muscles and bones.

The main risks associated with being overweight include the following:

Heart Disease & Stroke

Being overweight or obese can lead to high blood pressure and cholesterol, major risk factors for heart disease and stroke. This is because the extra fat increases the heart’s workload, leading to a higher risk of coronary artery disease. Additionally, the risk of stroke increases due to fatty plaque buildup in the arteries leading to the brain. The fats also cause your blood to be thicker, resulting in a higher risk of clots and blood vessel damage.


Being overweight or obese affects your body’s ability to produce and use insulin, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. In this condition, the body either does not make enough insulin or does not use it effectively, resulting in high blood sugar levels. The causes of diabetes are complex, but the extra fat in your body can reduce its sensitivity to insulin, making it harder for your body to control blood sugar.

Testing for blood sugar level

Certain Cancers

Research has shown that people who are overweight are more likely to develop certain types of cancer, such as breast, colon, and endometrial cancers. This is because excess body fat can increase the levels of hormones that promote tumor growth in the body. The extra fat can also lead to inflammation in the body, which is linked to increased cancer risk.

Joint Pain & Osteoarthritis

Being overweight can increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis in your joints, as it puts extra stress on them. Additionally, carrying additional weight can cause the cartilage in your joints to wear away faster than normal, resulting in inflammation and pain. The fats around your joints can also lead to increased hormones known as growth factors, resulting in further damage.

What You Can Do

If you are at risk due to your current weight, it is important to start making changes to reduce those risks down the road.

Start with Doctor’s Appointment

The best first step is to talk to your doctor about your weight, as they can provide valuable advice and resources for getting started with a healthier lifestyle. Depending on your needs, your doctor may suggest diet changes, physical activity, or medication. They may also order an MRI scan to check for any existing joint damage. Since you are overweight and may not be able to fit in traditional MRI machines, open MRI scans are available, which involve less confining imaging techniques.

Change Your Diet

Changing your diet is the most important step in losing weight and improving your overall health. This includes reducing or eliminating the consumption of processed foods, increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables, and eating regular meals throughout the day. It is also important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water!

A slightly overweight woman choosing between a doughnut and an apple

Increase Your Physical Activity

Incorporating physical activity into your life is important, as it can help you reach a healthy weight and improve overall health. A good goal is to get an hour of moderate-intensity exercise (such as walking or biking) five days a week. Additionally, two to three times per week strength training exercises can be beneficial, as they can help build muscle and reduce fat.

Being overweight does not mean the end of the world, but it is important to be aware of its potential risks. If you are at risk, talk to your doctor and take steps toward improving your health today! By making small changes to your diet and lifestyle, you can significantly reduce the risk of developing any health complications associated with being overweight.

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