Health risks


How extra weight affects health

Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do for your health.

Extra weight can drag down your mood, energy, and self-confidence. At the same time, it raises your risk for many serious conditions. If you have overweight or obesity, losing weight can greatly reduce your risk of health problems and help boost your overall well-being.

Heart disease

Studies show that more than one-third of all heart disease is caused by the combination of extra weight and lack of exercise.

Being just 20 percent over your target weight increases your risk for developing heart disease, especially if you carry your extra weight in your belly.

Get recipes, lifestyle tips, and tools to keep your heart healthy.


Older woman with doctorIn the last 10 years, the number of people with type 2 diabetes in the U.S. has increased by 50 percent. This is due, in part, to the increase in overweight and obesity.

Studies have shown that losing 5 to 7 percent of your body weight with healthy eating, active living and increasing your physical activity to 150 minutes a week can:

• prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes by 58%
• lower blood sugars for people with diabetes, which can prevent serious complications
• reduce the need for medication to treat type 2 diabetes

Learn more about preventing, living with, and managing diabetes.


Extra weight and depression often go hand in hand. Depression may be more common in people with a higher body mass index (BMI), and studies have found that people who have a high BMI become more depressed over time. Use our interactive tool to find out if you have depression and explore treatment options.

The connection between depression and extra weight may be caused by one or more of these factors:

  • Certain medications that are prescribed for anxiety or depression can cause weight gain.
  • People with overweight or obesity often spend less time with friends and family, which can also lead to depression.
  • Some people tend to be less active and overeat when they are depressed, causing additional weight gain. This is called emotional eating.
  • Chronic stress can add to depression, and may also cause fat storage. That's why it's important to manage stress as you work toward reaching or maintaining a healthy weight.

The health benefits of regular exercise also play a big role in emotional wellness by helping to:

  • reach your healthy weight goals
  • decrease depression
  • improve mood
  • reduce stress and anxiety

Get tools and support to help manage your emotional wellness.


If you're very overweight, your chances of getting some forms of cancer are higher. People who carry extra fat around their waist may be at even greater risk.

Learn more about preventing some types of cancer.

 Reviewed by: Adam Tsai, MD, November 2018