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How To Prevent Obesity: Tips For Preventing Obesity 2023

Cassi Donegan

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Dr G. Michael DiLeo, MD

how to prevent obesity

Obesity can affect children and adults, and with rising numbers of this disease, everyone should know and spread awareness of its impact. 

Obesity is the complex condition of being very fat or overweight. It can be chronic and life-long if left untreated. This disorder of excessive weight[1] can increase your chances of many negative health consequences, including:

  • Difficulty walking. 
  • Joint and spine pain.
  • High blood pressure. 
  • Breathing disorders. 
  • Brain fog.
  • Diabetes. 
  • Trouble reproducing. 
  • Heart disease.
  • Kidney and liver disease.
  • Gallbladder disease and stones.
  • Some cancers. 

Thankfully, it’s preventable and can prove to be easier to prevent than having to reverse any weight gain. This article will tell you what obesity is, why preventing it is important, and how it may affect your body. We’ll also look at how to prevent obesity in healthy, actionable ways for any age.    

How To Prevent Obesity

  • Healthy food and drink choices.
  • Adequate sleep.
  • Stress management.
  • Getting enough physical activity. 
  • Community and environmental support.

What Is Obesity?

A BMI over 25 is considered overweight; a score over 30 is obese; and above 40[2] is morbidly obese, the type of obesity most likely to have health complications.

According to the WHO, obesity[3] has become an epidemic, with more than four million deaths each year resulting from excessive weight, and rates continue to grow in both children and adults. 

During the 2017-2018 obesity survey[4] on Americans, around 30% of adults are obese, with almost 20% of children being affected by this disease. While there are a few genetic dispositions, health conditions, and medications that may make you more prone to obesity, the main cause of this problem is consuming more calories than you burn. 

Since 1975, the number of obese individuals has tripled.[5] This is due to several things, including changes in work environments, with an increase in sitting and a decrease in physical activity, convenient fast foods with saturated fat being chosen over a healthy diet, and modes of transportation requiring less physical effort. 

How Does Obesity Affect Your Body?

Being obese changes how your body functions, increases inflammation, and increases your risk of serious, unwanted medical conditions that can cause premature death.[6] This extra weight can affect your entire body, from your brain to your bones, and the effects can get worse as time goes on. Here are a few examples of the impact:

  • You may have trouble breathing, especially at night while trying to sleep, causing sleep apnea, hypoxia, hypercapnia,[7] asthma, and snoring. 
  • Excess fat can cause osteosarcopenic obesity,[8] where bones and muscles deteriorate, causing disability, pain, and an increased risk of fractures. 
  • Fat accumulation around your internal organs, like your liver, can damage them, causing poor functioning from scar tissue and even organ failure. 
  • Obesity can cause low self-esteem, negative self-perceptions, anxiety, and depression. 
  • It may cause mechanical issues with your body, affecting your speed and ability to bend and move as you should. 
  • The heart has to work harder to pump the blood throughout your body, which can result in high blood pressure, raising your risk of hardened arteries, stroke, heart attack, and chronic kidney disease. Circulation changes can result in amputations.
  • Obesity can cause the body’s cells to become insulin resistant, leading to high blood sugar and type 2 diabetes, with chronic health issues like neuropathic pain, poor eyesight, and poor circulation that risk limb amputations. 
  • Skin integrity may alter as the fat stretches your skin, causing folds that air may not reach, leading to excess moisture, odor, yeast infections, and skin breakdown. 
  • Excess weight can affect your hormone levels and cause infertility, making it harder to conceive a child. 
  • Obesity can adversely affect your income due to work loss from medical complications or even employers’ prejudice[9] against hiring the overweight.

These are just a few ways obesity can change your life. Now, let’s take a look at how to prevent it. 

Ways To Prevent Obesity

Many weight loss methods are also obesity prevention strategies, so if you are currently battling weight gain, this list can also be applied to your life and could result in weight loss. Planning realistic goals that are possible to obtain is key to success. 

Additionally, all the ways we cover in this article will inform someone how to prevent obesity in childhood throughout adulthood. These tips for preventing obesity and maintaining a healthy weight apply to people of any age, young or old. 

Obesity prevention can begin as early as infancy. For example, science shows that babies who are exclusively breastfed to at least six months old have a significantly reduced risk[10] of childhood obesity.

Let’s go ahead and read about five practical ways to prevent obesity and maintain a healthy body weight. 

Healthy Food And Drink Choices

how to prevent obesity

Healthy eating and drinking can help prevent the excessive calories, chemicals, and metabolism-slowing ingredients consumed by eating unhealthy foods, like junk food that is devoid of high nutritional value. 

If you did not grow up encouraged to eat healthily, it’s not too late to learn. Learning how to eat healthily will take time and effort. Here are some basic ways to incorporate healthy food and drink choices into your life:

  • Learn how to food budget, meal prep, and consistently implement a weekly or monthly plan.
  • Intentionally keep healthy foods in the house and with you while traveling and limit or eliminate the unhealthy foods you allow. 
  • Eat slowly. It can take 20 minutes for your body to send your brain signals that you’re full. 
  • Keep a food diary. Minimize consumption of what bogs down your energy or makes you feel poorly. 
  • Learn how to read food nutrition labels and what foods and drinks to avoid, like those containing high fructose corn syrup.
  • Adequate hydration is vital to maintaining a healthy digestive tract and avoiding unnecessary water weight and fat accumulation.
  • Limit or eliminate highly processed foods, refined grains, excessive salt, sugar, saturated fats, and trans fats to prevent weight gain.
  • Watch your unhealthy fat intake, but often include healthy fats like those found in lean proteins and avocados. 
  • Eat healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole-grain foods. 
  • Choose healthy beverages like lemon water, black and green teas, and even coffee in moderation. 
  • Invest in time with a registered dietician or nutritionist to help you with your eating habits.

Get Adequate Sleep 

how to prevent obesity

Making sure you prioritize getting sleep is an important part of obesity prevention. Sleep is when a body heals and restores. It also affects our hormones, and not getting enough of it can result in extra cravings and body fat.

If you have a sleep disorder or a night job, it can make it more challenging to prevent weight gain due to inadequate sleep.[11] Sticking to your body’s circadian rhythm as much as possible can help you lessen your risk of gaining weight. 

 A few things you can do to promote great sleep are: 

  • Making sure your room temperature stays comfortable.
  • Clearing your mind to relax with bathtime, journaling, or reading before bed. 
  • Figure out how many hours of sleep you need as an individual, and stick to a sleep schedule. 
  • If you have consistent trouble sleeping, check with your healthcare provider to help find a solution to the underlying problem. 

Stress Management

how to prevent obesity

Chronic stress and an overactive sympathetic nervous system can alter how much food and what kind of food you consume. Often, convenient comfort foods are what a stressed-out individual reaches for. While some of these can be healthy in moderation, stress can also lead to overeating and consuming more calories than you can burn. 

It’s essential to develop coping skills[12] and learn resiliency for stressful times, and healthily process any traumatic experiences that happen in life to prevent unhealthy overeating and inactivity. 

Finding a counselor, support groups, or close friends to help manage stress may prevent emotional eating behaviors that can lead to weight gain. 

Getting Enough Physical Activity

how to prevent obesity

Exercising for weight control is most effective in achieving more than 150 minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous intensity[13] movements. Many people struggle to find the time or motivation to get enough physical activity, but doing this is vital in preventing obesity. 

You gain weight when you consume more calories than you burn. Using the 24 hours in the day wisely and intentionally scheduling physical activity can help you reach your goals. Also, limiting sit-down time and using these desk exercises[14] when you’re at work can help keep your metabolism moving. 

Kids need 60 minutes a day of physical activity, and the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that adults get at least 30 minutes[15] of moderate-intensity aerobic activity five days a week or, alternatively, engage in 20 minutes of vigorous activity three days per week. 

Community And Environmental Support

how to prevent obesity

When healthier lifestyle resources are available, accessible, and affordable, people can receive the empowerment they need to make the changes they need to prevent obesity. 

In other words, people need to have access to nutrient-dense foods, physical activity, and stress management to prevent obesity. Education is also important for knowing how to prepare real food, measure out appropriate portion sizes, and read food nutrition labels. 

Finding the local resources around you can help you stick to managing your weight. For example, studies show that community support programs[16] may help you lead a healthier life by increasing your physical activity, mental health awareness, and choosing a nutritious diet.  

Why Does Prevention Matter?

It goes without saying that preventing obesity matters because it comes with health risks and can lessen the quality and quantity of someone’s life. This chronic disease is showing growth around the world with its increasing percentage rates, and increasing awareness and taking action is essential for each individual to see these numbers decline for a healthier population. 

By living a healthy lifestyle that fights to prevent obesity, you’re also fighting off many other chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease that are more likely to happen due to excessive weight. 

Preventing obesity is also important for a person’s mental health. For example, studies show that those who struggle with obesity are 55% more likely to develop depression.[17] 

The impact of obesity on a person’s physical and mental health can cause harmful effects on their entire life, so preventing extra fat accumulation can help a person to thrive and live their healthiest life. 

Final Thought

Preventing obesity is more challenging for some than others. However, with mindfulness and intentional living, you can develop and keep the habits that can help you to avoid gaining excessive weight. 

Being a healthy weight is vital for your health, and there are steps that you can take to proactively prevent obesity, such as:

  • Choosing healthy food and drinks.
  • Getting enough physical activity.
  • Actively managing your stress levels.
  • Creating a restorative sleep routine. 
  • Finding community support.

If you notice that your or your child’s weight gain is out of control, intervene and make changes toward healthier habits as soon as possible to prevent further weight gain. The more extra weight there is, the harder it may be to reverse and achieve weight loss. 

Making small changes to your patterns can help you maintain your weight, but you don’t have to go it alone. There are nutritionists, wellness coaches, and physical trainers that can help you on your journey. They may suggest adding specific vitamins and minerals or fat-burning supplements to your diet for optimal results. 

+ 17 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. Obesity Prevention Source. (2012). Health Risks. [online] Available at: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-consequences/health-effects/
  2. Cleveland Clinic. (2017). Class III Obesity (Morbid Obesity): Causes, Symptoms, Risks & Treatment. [online] Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21989-class-iii-obesity-formerly-known-as-morbid-obesity
  3. World (2020). Obesity. [online] Who.int. Available at: https://www.who.int/health-topics/obesity#tab=tab_1
  4. Cleveland Clinic. (2017). Obesity: Causes, Types, Prevention & Definition. [online] Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/11209-weight-control-and-obesity
  5. DeJesus, R.S., Croghan, I.T., Jacobson, D.J., Fan, C. and St. Sauver, J. (2022). Incidence of Obesity at 1 and 3 Years Among Community Dwelling Adults: A Population-Based Study. Journal of Primary Care & Community Health, [online] 13, p.215013192110686. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/21501319211068632.
  6. Who.int. (2023). item. [online] Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/obesity-health-consequences-of-being-overweight
  7. Wang, X.-N., Luo, J.-M., Xiao, Y., Zhang, D.-M. and Huang, R. (2021). Daytime hypercapnia in adult patients with obstructive sleep apnea in China. Chinese Medical Journal, [online] 134(18), pp.2237–2239. doi:https://doi.org/10.1097/cm9.0000000000001602.
  8. Kelly, O., Gilman, J., Boschiero, D. and Ilich, J. (2019). Osteosarcopenic Obesity: Current Knowledge, Revised Identification Criteria and Treatment Principles. Nutrients, [online] 11(4), p.747. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11040747.
  9. Eastern Kentucky University (2016). Overweight and Underpaid: Weight Discrimination at Work. [online] EKU Online. Available at: https://safetymanagement.eku.edu/blog/overweight-and-underpaid-weight-discrimination-at-work/#:~:text=Weight%20Discrimination%20in%20the%20Workplace,somebody%20who%20was%20visibly%20overweight.
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  12. Scott, K.A., Melhorn, S.J. and Sakai, R.R. (2012). Effects of Chronic Social Stress on Obesity. Current Obesity Reports, [online] 1(1), pp.16–25. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s13679-011-0006-3.
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Cassi Donegan

Medically reviewed by:

Michael DiLeo

Cassi Donegan, Licensed Practical Nurse, is a freelance health writer and editor. She has over 17 years of nursing experience in various specialties including Neurology, Orthopedics, Spine, and Pediatrics. Patient care has convinced her to be passionate about educating others on nutrition, natural childbirth, home birthing, and natural remedies for the holistic and alternative healthcare field.

Medically reviewed by:

Michael DiLeo

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