Is Being Overweight the New Normal Weight?

Medically Reviewed on 9/23/2021

What does being overweight or obese mean?

Being overweight or obese is when someone has enough excess fat to be considered unhealthy. Being overweight is not the new normal and it is not healthy.
Being overweight or obese is when someone has enough excess fat to be considered unhealthy. Being overweight is not the new normal and it is not healthy.

Today, America is facing an epidemic of obesity with a vast population of people being overweight. Almost 70% of Americans over the age of 20 years are overweight. One-third of those people are obese

This continued rise in obesity can be overwhelming. It can be difficult to feel hopeful that this can change. You may wonder, “Is fat the new normal?” But being overweight doesn’t need to be the new normal. 

‌Being overweight or obese is when someone has enough excess fat to be considered unhealthy. Both terms simply describe someone who could be at risk of health problems due to excess fat in their body. To know whether you are overweight or obese, you can calculate your body mass index or BMI. This will allow you to have a frame of reference for your weight.

‌To calculate your BMI, you should:

  • ‌Measure your height
  • Measure your weight
  • Multiply your weight by 704.5 
  • Divide the result by your height in inches
  • Divide that number again 

‌If your BMI is between 25 and 29.9, you are medically overweight. If your BMI is over 30, you are medically obese. This formula is designed to estimate your body fat. If you have an athletic build with lots of muscles, your BMI may be much less in actuality. This is because muscle weighs more than fat. 

‌To figure out your child or teen’s BMI, you need to take them to their doctor. BMI for children and teenagers is measured differently. This is because children’s bodies are changing and growing very rapidly. 

Boys and girls develop differently. So, their doctor will measure their BMI by comparing their height and weight to those of other boys and girls of their age. 

Some health problems caused by being overweight or obese are as follows:

Is fat the new normal?

‌No, it isn’t. Weight loss may have significant challenges for various reasons, but it is possible. You can avoid becoming overweight or obese. But for that, you need to understand what causes obesity or being overweight.

Scientifically, weight gain happens when you eat more calories than your body burns. This can happen due to the following:‌

  • Diet imbalances
  • Not exercising 
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • Family history of obesity or overweight family members
  • Genetics
  • Large food portions
  • Emotional eating patterns
  • Smoking cigarettes

‌American consumers are sold processed, packaged, and unhealthy food that is high in calories. This makes the nutritive quality of many Americans’ food relatively low. They also tend to eat larger portions of such food than necessary. 

‌Many Americans have a confused idea of what is nourishing because of marketing and advertisements. 

Today, only 20% of all jobs require physical activity. This has caused most Americans to lead a more sedentary lifestyle. As a result, Americans burn between 120 and 140 calories less per day than they would 50 years ago. Along with enlarged portion sizes and processed foods, these are the biggest reasons for Americans to gain weight. 

How do you lose weight?

‌The majority of people with obesity lead lifestyles that aren’t conducive to weight loss. The best way to lose weight is to start by changing your lifestyle. Looking at the following lifestyle aspects is a great place to start:

‌Changing your diet

‌Focus on eating nutritious foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free dairy, and lean proteins. Set a goal of calorie intake per day and make sure you stay within it. 

‌Eat “comfort foods” less often

‌You may enjoy eating things like cookies, cake, or chocolate. But they are often high in calories. Losing weight doesn’t mean you have to cut these foods out of your diet. Instead, try to eat them less often and think of them more like valued treats than everyday habits. 


‌Try and work up to getting about 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. You can split this time up throughout the week. But make sure you take some time out for exercise

‌If you try these things and see no result, you should visit your healthcare provider. There may be other causes of obesity or being overweight like genetics and reasons that could require medical attention.


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Medically Reviewed on 9/23/2021

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight," "Why is physical activity important?"

National Kidney Foundation: "Obesity and Overweight: What You Should Know."

PublicHealth: "Public Awareness Obesity in America."

Tufts Medical Center: "Obesity is not a new normal: My opinion on the "Biggest Loser" article."