Return to Index
Diagnosis of Obesity
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. Your weight and height will be measured.
Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m² or greater in an adult. BMI is a person's weight in kilograms divided by the square of their height in meters. Morbid obesity is a BMI that is higher than 40.
Since children are still growing, BMI is a percentile of a child's weight and height when compared to other children who are their gender and age. Obesity in children is a BMI in the 95th percentile or higher. Severe obesity is when it is in the120th percentile or higher.
Obesity can also be diagnosed by measuring a person's waist. Having a large waist can raise the risk of health problems even if a person's total weight is not high.
Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline on pharmacological management of obesity can be found in J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2015 Feb;100(2):342.
Obesity. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/nutritional-disorders/obesity-and-the-metabolic-syndrome/obesity. Updated January 2020. Accessed January 31, 2020.
Obesity in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/obesity-in-adults. Updated November 30, 2018. Accessed January 31, 2020.
Obesity in children and adolescents. EBSCO DynaMed website. https://www.dynamed.com/condition/obesity-in-children-and-adolescents. Updated October 30, 2019. Accessed January 31, 2020.
Treatment. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/obe/treatment. Accessed January 31, 2020.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
- Review Date: 02/2017
- Update Date: 02/23/2017