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Overweight and Obesity

Being overweight refers to an excess of body weight compared to set standards. The excess weight may come from muscle, bone, fat, and/or body water. Body Mass Index (BMI) is a method for assessing body fat. BMI uses your height and weight values to determine whether you are at risk for weight-related health problems. The closer your BMI is to the desirable range (19 to 24), the lower your risk for health problems. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight and one 30 or above is considered obese. A BMI of 30 in most cases means an individual is about 30 pounds overweight. One can be overweight without being obese, as in the example of a bodybuilder or other athlete who has a lot of muscle. However, many people who are overweight are also obese.

A number of methods are used to determine if an individual is overweight or obese. Some of them are based on mathematical calculations of the relation between height and weight; others are based on measurements of body fat. The definitions or measurement characteristics for overweight and obesity have varied over time, from study to study, and from one part of the world to another.

Body Mass Index Table
To use this table, find the appropriate height in the left-hand column. Move across to a given weight. The number at the top of the column is the BMI at the height and weight. Pounds have been rounded off. You can use other web-based BMI calculations to find out your BMI.

Overweight and obesity are known risk factors for:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Hypertension
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis (degeneration of cartilage and bone of joints)
  • Sleep apnea and other breathing problems
  • Some forms of cancer (uterine, breast, colorectal, kidney, and gallbladder)

Obesity is associated with:

  • High blood cholesterol
  • Complications of pregnancy
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Hirsutism (presence of excess body and facial hair)
  • Stress incontinence (urine leakage caused by weak pelvic-floor muscles)
  • Psychological disorders such as depression
  • Increased surgical risk

It is unsafe to try to lose weight rapidly on fad diets. Many federal agencies have established guidelines to promote healthy lifestyles. Current recommendations by the American Dietetic Association, the U. S. Surgeon General, and the American Medical Association encourage people to eat a diet centered around the Food Guide Pyramid and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Pyramid is printed on many food labels, especially cold cereal boxes.

If you would like help in losing weight, contact Student Health Services to access nutrition counseling services from the dietitian. Click here for more information on dietitian services.

Resource Links:

  • Food and Nutrition Information Center (
  • Center for Disease Control (
  • National Institute of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (
  • Weight Control Information Network (
  • Ask The Dietitian. (

UND Student Health Services
McCannel Hall, Room 100
Box 9038
Grand Forks, ND 58202
Tel: 701.777.4500