According to the American Heart Association (AHA), one in three Americans is obese, and another third are overweight. To help combat this problem, the AHA and the American College of Cardiology have updated their guidelines for managing overweight and obesity in adults. The goal: to aggressively treat obesity as a disease and avoid such obesity-related outcomes as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

For starters, the guidelines suggest that doctors calculate each patient's body mass index (BMI), which is based on height and weight, at least once a year. People with a BMI score of 25 to 29.9 are considered overweight; a score of 30 or higher indicates obesity. Also, having a waist circumference of 35 inches or greater for women and 40 inches or greater for men is generally considered unhealthy.

If your doctor says you need to lose weight, he or she should work with you to devise a plan of action. This includes:

1. Set a goal. Aim to lose 5 to 10 percent of your body weight over the next six to 12 months.

2. Make a plan. Your doctor should offer strategies to help you eat more healthfully and reduce calories consumed. Most people should also exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.

3. Consider surgery. If you have a BMI of at least 40, or a BMI of 35 to 39 and one or more cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure or sleep apnea, you may benefit from bariatric surgery.

4. Think long term. Losing the weight is one battle; keeping it off is another. Talk with your doctor about a long-term weight-loss maintenance program.

From our sister publication REMEDY's Healthy Living Fall 2014

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 13 Aug 2014

Last Modified: 19 Mar 2015