General Lab Information

Health Promotion Program

Know Your Numbers: Obesity


  • Obesity is widely considered an epidemic and a public health crisis worldwide with an increase of 8% in both genders in the past thirty years.
  • Fully 1/3 of all adults in the United States are obese, a number that is expected to increase in the years to come as we become an increasingly aging population.
  • In terms of healthcare dollars, it represents an increasing amount of total dollar expenditures with estimates putting costs annually from $147 billion to about $210 billion.

Medical Implications

  • Obesity is a risk factor and is also associated with many diseases including Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, many types of cancer, osteoarthritis, obstructive sleep apnea, many forms of cardiovascular disease, and asthma.
  • It is also a risk factor for early mortality in adults.


  • Body weight is assessed by your clinical provider using a measure called the body mass index (BMI).
  • Is calculated by: weight (kg)/ height (m^2). For a BMI less 18.5, this is considered underweight; 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal weight; 25.0 to 29.9 is overweight, and greater than 30 is considered obese.

Maintaining a healthy body weight

  • Weight control is a matter of controlling your intake versus your output; with weight gain or loss occurring in imbalances in either side.
  • Weight control in overweight and obese patients require a comprehensive approach with diet, exercise, and behavioral modification.
  • Consult your clinical provider, you should work together before starting a weight loss regimen to ensure that your goals are reasonable, that your weight gain is not a result of a medical condition and that you are physically fit to tolerate an exercise regimen.

Weight loss

  • Weight loss in the range of 5 to 7 percent of body weight is a reasonable initial weight loss goal.
  • Weight loss of over 5 percent can have an overall health benefit in the reduction of disease risk factors.


  • Eliminating intake of all caloric drinks, maintaining portion control and self-monitoring. Self-monitoring can be achieved by food diaries, activity records and tracking your weight.
  • The choice of diet varies, healthy diets are generally low in unwanted calories, refined carbohydrates, processed or red meats and eliminates processed foods. They are usually high in fruits, nut, beans, yogurt and vegetables, fish and fiber.
  • Some examples include the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) or the Mediterranean-style diet. See below for a diet plan under useful links.
  • Exercise activity should be at least 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. See the American Heart Association website link below for exercise recommendations.
  • Some strength training is also advised. Again, please consult with your clinical provider before beginning any exercise regimen in order to work together towards achievable goals and also to ensure that you are physically fit to tolerate a routine.

Final Advice

  • As in the case of so many things in life, the key is consistency and keeping attainable goals in mind as you work towards your health goals.
  • Healthy dieting and exercise are part of a healthy lifestyle. Start low and go slow! We are here to support!

By Dr Marlon Munion
Preventive Medicine
Stony Brook University Hospital

Useful links