Skip navigation

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

URL of this page:

Weight Control


Why is weight control important?

If you are struggling with your weight, you are not alone. In the United States, more than 70 percent of adults are overweight or have obesity. Having this extra weight raises your risk for many health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and certain cancers.

Reaching and staying at a healthy weight can be challenging. But a having a healthy lifestyle, including healthy eating patterns and regular physical activity, can help you lose weight. It can also lower your chance of developing weight-related health conditions.

What factors affect weight and health?

You gain weight when you take in more calories (through food and drinks) than you use up from physical activity and daily living. But there are many different factors that can affect weight gain, such as:

  • The world around you. Your home, community, and workplace all may affect how you make daily lifestyle choices. For example:
    • It is often easier to find food and beverages high in calories, sugar, and fat. For instance, vending machines, cafeterias, and special events may not offer healthy, lower calorie options.
    • Less healthy foods may be cheaper than healthier foods.
    • Many people are getting less physical activity because they are spending more time using smartphones and other devices.
  • Families. Overweight and obesity tend to run in families. Overweight and obesity tend to run in families. This suggests that genes may play a role in weight gain. Families may also share eating and lifestyle habits. For example, some families may often have foods and drinks that are high in calories, sugar, and fat. And some families may tend to be less active and spend more time doing things like sitting and watching TV or using computers.
  • Not enough sleep. People who don't get enough sleep may eat more calories and snack more.
  • Emotions. Some people eat when they feel bored, sad, or stressed, even if they are not hungry.
  • Medicines and health conditions. Taking certain medicines, such as steroids and certain antidepressants, can lead to weight gain. Some chronic health problems can also cause you to gain weight. A few examples are Cushing's syndrome and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

How can I get to and stay at a healthy weight?

Getting to and staying at a healthy weight involves finding a balance of food and activity. To lose weight, you need to take in fewer calories than you use up. Some ways to do this are:

  • Eating more nutrient-rich foods, such as foods with lots of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
  • Eating and drinking less of the foods and beverages that have lots of calories, salt, sugar, and fat.
  • Limiting alcohol.
  • Finding healthier ways to cook, such as using healthier oils to cook with and baking or grilling instead of frying foods.
  • Getting more physical activity. The general recommendation is for adults to get 150 minutes of physical activity each week, including:
    • Aerobic activity, which is also called cardio. It uses your large muscle groups (chest, legs, and back) to speed up your heart rate and breathing.
    • Muscle-strengthening activity, which is also called strength training. It works your muscles by making you push or pull against something.

You may decide to do these lifestyle changes on your own, or you may decide to try a weight-loss diet or program. Before you start, it's important to check with your health care provider first. Your provider can tell you what a healthy weight is for you, help you set goals, and give you tips on how to lose weight.

If making lifestyle changes or doing a weight-loss program are not enough to help you lose weight, your provider may prescribe medicines. The prescription medicines to treat overweight and obesity work in different ways. Some may help you feel less hungry or full sooner. Others may make it harder for your body to absorb fat from the foods you eat.

Another treatment is weight loss surgery. Your provider may recommend the surgery if you have severe obesity or serious obesity-related health problems and you have not been able to lose enough weight.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Start Here

Diagnosis and Tests

Treatments and Therapies

Living With

Related Issues


Health Check Tools

Test Your Knowledge

Statistics and Research

Clinical Trials

Reference Desk




Patient Handouts

The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.