Overweight, Obesity, and Fitness

Overweight and Obesity

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

Let's Move Initiative

Let's Move! encourages health care providers to make a clinical commitment to encouraging physical activity and healthy eating among their patients.

Learn More

 

Fitness

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. 

Get goal-setting tips »

Nutrition Counseling During Pregnancy

Read an article by a family physician to discover how she counsels patients on nutrition during prenatal visits.

Read the article »

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.

About the toolkit »

Patient Education Resources

Offer family medicine-oriented information to your patients, free of charge via FamilyDoctor.org. 

Available in English and Spanish.


References

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. 

Let's Move Initiative

Let's Move! encourages health care providers to make a clinical commitment to encouraging physical activity and healthy eating among their patients.

Learn More