Overweight, Obesity, and Fitness
Overweight and Obesity
Obesity is a growing epidemic and is a major risk factor for many of the most important population health issues, including heart disease, hypertension, stroke, cancer, and diabetes. The AAFP is dedicated to advancing the health of the public and plays a pivotal role in addressing the obesity epidemic by developing and disseminating evidence-based, innovative, and practical tools.
The prevalence of obesity in the United States is alarming. More than one-third of adults and 17% of youth are considered obese.1 Obesity occurs over time and involves having too much body fat, while being overweight means weighing too much. Both are serious conditions which family physicians encounter regularly.
Comorbid conditions associated with being overweight or obese can have serious effects on an individual’s health, and indeed, the health system of the nation. Some of the leading causes of preventable death are associated with obesity, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer. Medical care costs of obesity in the U.S. is estimated at $147 billion.2
Family physicians play a critical role in counseling patients about healthy interventions to prevent the onset of obesity. Some of the most patient-centered approaches family physicians can encourage for patients with weight management issues include:
- Identifying obstacles to nutritional eating habits and suggesting alternative food choices;
- Recommending positive behavioral strategies (such as approaches to coping with stress, cognitive behavior therapy options, food journaling, and establishing a social support network); and
- Setting realistic and attainable physical activity goals.
Resources for You and Your Practice
Helping Patients Set Fitness Goals
Get tips for facilitating healthy lifestyle conversations with your patients, including practical ways to begin.
Nutrition Counseling During Pregnancy
Read an article by a family physician to discover how she counsels patients on nutrition during prenatal visits.
The Nutrition Toolkit
Order brochures and in-office tools to help you talk with patients about nutrition needs and appropriate supplement use. Free for AAFP members. Shipping rates apply.
Patient Education Resources
Offer family medicine-oriented information to your patients, free of charge via FamilyDoctor.org.
Available in English and Spanish.
1 Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Kit BK, Flegal KM. Prevalence of childhood and adult obesity in the United States, 2011-2012. JAMA. 2014;311(8):806-814.
2 Finkelstein EA, Trogdon JG, Cohen JW, Dietz W. Annual medical spending attributable to obesity: payer-and service-specific estimates. Health Aff. 2009;28(5):w822-31.