A quick and handy way to find out if someone is overweight or obese is by calculating the Body Mass Index or BMI.  BMI is a measure based on height and weight and is not gender-specific.  Someone with a BMI of 30 or higher is usually considered to be obese.  Try the BMI calculator at (

Although obesity may have some genetic influence, your genes alone don't determine whether you are obese except for some rare cases. Your daily decisions such as poor eating habits and physical inactivity are major contributing factors to obesity.  

A sedentary lifestyle is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as "less than three twenty minute sessions of leisure time physical activity per week".  Obesity contributes to many health risks such as high blood pressure, type II diabetes, heart disease, stroke, respiratory problems, cancer and psychological disorders.

The following table summarizes the relative risk of health problems associated with obesity:

Greatly Increased (Relative Risk > 3)

Moderately Increased (Relative Risk 2 - 3)

Slightly Increased (Relative Risk 1 - 2)

Diabetes mellitus Coronary heart disease Cancer
Hypertension Osteoarthritis (Knees)
Sleep apnea Hyperuricemia and gout
Source: Björntorp, P. International Textbook of Obesity, 2001

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