Difference between Overweight and Obesity

Overweight as well as obesity imply a condition in which the weight and body fat of a person exceeds than what is being considered healthy. People often use overweight and obesity synonymously, however there exists a major difference between these two conditions which we will be discussing in this article.

Both these conditions are the result of a disrupted energy balance; the ratio of consumed calories to burned calories. One of the main differences between these two conditions lies in the degree of fat accumulated. The proper medical definition of these two conditions is based on BMI which involves height and weight for the calculation.

More than 1 in 3 adults are found to be overweight, more than 1 in 3 adults are found to obese and more than 2 in 3 adults are found to be either overweight or obese.

What is Overweight?

Overweight, often referred to as fat, is a condition in which the body weight increases more than what is considered optimally healthy. If your BMI is in between 25 and 30, you are considered overweight. One is considered overweight generally because of the extra body fat. Some other reasons behind being overweight includes extra muscles, bone or water.

Genetic components do affect susceptibility to getting overweight. What we consume determines which genes are expressed and which are not. Engineered, high-fat junk foods, sugar-sweetened foods also add to this susceptibility. Also, some medicines can make you gain several pounds a month as side effects. Most of these medicines treat seizures, diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, depression and psychiatric disorders.

Research has implied that lack of sleep can also lead to gaining weight. Improper sleep cycles severely affect our eating patterns and mood, and make us overeat. Several other reasons of overweight includes pregnancy, hormonal changes, menstruation and fluid retention.

What is Obesity?

Obesity is a common yet complex, serious and chronic disease which results in excessive body fat and often poor health. If your BMI is more than 30, you will be considered obese. Generally, obesity is caused by eating way too much and moving too little. Consuming high amounts of energy, specifically fat and sugar, and not burning it off leads to obesity.

Obesity can be defined as the excessive fat in comparison to the lean body mass, or a body weight which is 30% more than the ideal body weight for a particular height. When a person suffers from obesity, the amount adipose tissue in his body reaches to a sufficiently high level.

Obesity often results from inherited, physiological and environmental factors, along with diet, lack of physical activity and choice of exercises. Some of the obesity- related conditions such as stroke, cardiac disease and diabetes are among the most prominent causes of preventable and premature death. Obesity also causes certain types of cancer such as endometrial, breast, ovarian, prostate, liver, gallbladder, kidney and colon.

Differences between Overweight and Obesity

The following table highlights the major differences between being Overweight and Obesity −





A person with body weight that is considered unhealthy and has BMI between 25 to 30.

A person with excessive body weight and BMI over 30.

Risks involved

Depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol

Diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart diseases


Exercise, reduce intake of food, take a balanced and calorie- controlled diet

Reduce intake of calories, do exercise regularly, some extreme cases may involve surgery


Intake of food exceeds that what the body expends, genetics

More or excessive intake of food, fast food, stress, depression, hormonal imbalance, sedentary lifestyle

Rate of occurrence

Around one billion people are overweight globally

More than 300 million people are obese globally

Regions most affected

Whole globe

North America, the United Kingdom, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Pacific Islands, Australasia, China


The BMI of an overweight person is between 25 to 30

The BMI of an obese person is over 30

In children

Around 22 million children who are 5 years old or even lesser are overweight

Around 5% of these overweight children are obese

Overweight as well as obese indicate excess weight or fat of a person. However, they are much different from one another. It is sure that an obese person carries excess weight. The same is not true for an overweight person. An overweight person may or may not have excess accumulation of fat.

Being overweight refers to too much body weight or fat for a specific height. On the other hand, obesity refers to a level of excess fat that causes increased risks of serious and fatal diseases. One can be overweight but he may or may not be obese.

Obesity is more common in women than in men and in some countries and populations, this gap gets more significant.


As we have already discussed how the two conditions, overweight and obesity, are two different conditions. We also discussed what leads to these conditions and the various effects of these two conditions.

Both these conditions along with their related diseases can be efficiently prevented. Supportive environments and communities are key in determining people’s choices. Healthier foods and regular physical activity can prevent both these conditions significantly. Some other effective measures include limiting energy intake, increasing intake of fruits and green vegetables