The body mass index (BMI) is the metric currently in use for defining anthropometric height/weight characteristics and for classifying them into groups. BMI is an estimate of body fat and has been identified as an indicator of an individual’s increased risk for diseases that can occur with more body fat. A healthy weight is considered to be a BMI of 24 or less. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight. Obesity among adults is defined as having a BMI of 30 or greater. Obesity among children is based on the CDC growth chart percentiles for children 2 years of age and older; obesity is defined as having BMI of 95th percentile or higher. Obesity is a major contributor to serious health conditions in children and adults. The higher the BMI, the higher the risk for certain diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems, and certain cancers.
The prevalence of obesity in the United States has grown rapidly in the last three decades; consequently, there is a pressing need to help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight. There are also persistent differences among socioeconomic and racial/ethnic groups in the occurrence of obesity and its health consequences.
In 2019, the New York State (NYS) Department of Health (DOH) released a new report based on data from the 2017 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), an annual statewide telephone survey of adults developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and administered by the NYSDOH. The report, “Overweight and Obesity among New York State Adults, 2017” provides updated prevalence estimates of both overweight and obesity in the state. According to the report, one-quarter (25.7%) of adults in New York State (NYS) have obesity and another 35.5% have overweight; these two conditions affect over 8.6 million people in NYS. The prevalence of obesity in NYS is higher among adults who are non-Hispanic black (35.5%), are currently living with disability (35.9%), and those who live in the region outside of New York City (28.0%). Obesity is less prevalent among adults who earn an annual household income greater than $50,000 (22.7%), and those with a college degree (18.7%). The New York State Prevention Agenda 2019–2024 has established objectives to reduce obesity by 5% among all adults, by 10% among adults with an annual household income of <$25,000 and among adults living with disability.
More information about the Prevention Agenda and the recommended strategies for addressing obesity in adults can be found on the NYSDOH website here.
Children with obesity are at a higher risk for having chronic health conditions. Use this collection of resources to help children and teens maintain a healthy weight and prevent obesity.
Some of the causes identified as having the greatest impact on obesity are poor-quality diet, overconsumption of calories, lack of physical activity and excessive sedentary time. Maintaining a healthy weight is not about temporary dietary changes. It requires a lifestyle that includes healthy eating, regular physical activity, and balancing the number of calories consumed with the number of calories expended.
Follow The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020, healthy eating plan:
Get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.
Practice mindful eating behaviors and accountability by monitoring appropriate portions and healthy choices.