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What Being Overweight Means?

our weight has been important since the moment you were born. Maybe you even know what your birth weight was. Most babies weigh less than 10 pounds and sometimes as little as 3 or 4 pounds.

But very quickly, a young baby gains weight and everyone is glad about that because it means the child is growing bigger and stronger.

As you get older, your weight is still important. It's something your parents and doctor will probably keep an eye on. When you go for a checkup, the doctor often will record your height and weight and compare it with what it was the last time you came in. The doctor wants to check that you are a  healthy weight because weighing too much — or too little — can be a problem.

But these days, being overweight is more common than being underweight. In the last 30 years, a growing number of kids and teenagers have developed weight problems. Today, 1 out of 3 kids and teens between the ages of 2 and 19 are overweight, or obese (a word that means very overweight).

Many grown-ups understand what it's like to have weight problems, since 2 out of every 3 adults are overweight or obese.

For kids and adults, weighing too much can lead to illnesses and health problems. And a kid who is overweight might get teased or find it hard to keep up with friends on the playground.

What Does It Mean?

When people talk about being overweight or obese, they mean that someone has more body fat than is healthy. Everyone has some body fat, but excess fat can affect someone's health and ability to walk, run, and get around, as well as how the person looks and his or her self-esteem.

How Is It Measured?

Someone can be underweight, at a healthy weight, overweight, or obese. There is no one perfect weight for a kid to be, but there are healthy weight ranges for kids based on height and gender (whether the person is a girl or a boy).

Doctors use four categories to describe a person's weight:

  1. Underweight: A person weighs less than the healthy range for his or her age, gender, and height.
  2. Healthy weight: A person's weight is in the healthy range for his or her age, gender, and height.
  3. Overweight: A person weighs more than the healthy range for his or her age, gender, and height.
  4. Obese: A person weighs much more than the healthy range for his or her age, gender, and height.

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