Adipose tissue (add-ih-POSE) Fat tissue in the body.
Bariatric surgery (bear-ee-AT-ric) Also known as gastrointestinal surgery. Surgery on the stomach and/or intestines to help patients with extreme obesity to lose weight. Bariatric surgery is a weight-loss method used for people who have a body mass index (BMI) above 40. Surgery may also be an option for people with a BMI between 35 and 40 who have health problems like heart disease or type 2 diabetes.
Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) (im-PEE-dance) A way to estimate the amount of body weight that is fat and nonfat. Nonfat weight comes from bone, muscle, body water, organs, and other body tissues. BIA works by measuring how difficult it is for a harmless electrical current to move through the body. The more fat a person has, the harder it is for electricity to flow through the body. The less fat a person has, the easier it is for electricity to flow through the body. By measuring the flow of electricity, one can estimate body fat percent.
Body mass index (BMI) A measure of body weight relative to height. BMI is a tool that is often used to determine if a person is at a healthy weight, overweight, or obese, and whether a person’s health is at risk due to his or her weight. To figure out BMI, use the following formula:
A body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered healthy. A person with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight, and a person with a BMI of 30 or more is considered obese.
Calorie (CAL-or-ee) A unit of energy in food. Foods have carbohydrates, proteins, and/or fats. Some beverages have alcohol. Carbohydrates and proteins have 4 calories per gram. Fat has 9 calories per gram. Alcohol has 7 calories per gram.
Carbohydrate (kar-bow-HY-drate) A major source of energy in the diet. There are two kinds of carbohydrates -- simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates: simple carbohydrates are sugars and complex carbohydrates include both starches and fiber. Carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram. They are found naturally in foods such as breads, pasta, cereals, fruits, vegetables, and milk and dairy products. Foods such as sugary cereals, soft drinks, fruit drinks, fruit punch, lemonade, cakes, cookies, pies, ice cream, and candy are very high in sugars.
Cholesterol (ko-LES-te-rol) A fat-like substance that is made by the body and is found naturally in animal foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Foods high in cholesterol include organ meats, egg yolks, and dairy fats. Cholesterol is needed to carry out functions such as hormone and vitamin production. Cholesterol is carried through the blood in small units called lipoproteins [see definition]. There are two types of units that carry cholesterol: low-density lipoproteins and high-density lipoproteins [see definitions]. When cholesterol levels are too high, some of the cholesterol is deposited on the walls of the blood vessels. Over time, the deposits can build up and cause the blood vessels to narrow and blood flow to decrease. The cholesterol in food, like saturated fat, tends to raise blood cholesterol, which increases the risk for heart disease. Total blood cholesterol levels above 240 mg/dl are considered high. Levels between 200 and 239 mg/dl are considered borderline high. Levels under 200 mg/dl are considered desirable.
Diabetes mellitus (dye-ah-BEE-teez) (MELL-ih-tus) A disease that occurs when the body is not able to use blood glucose (sugar). Blood sugar levels are controlled by insulin, a hormone in the body that helps move glucose (sugar) from the blood to muscles and other tissues. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not make enough insulin or the body does not respond to the insulin that is made. There are two main types of diabetes mellitus: type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes [see definitions].
Diet What a person eats and drinks. Any type of eating plan.
Energy expenditure The amount of energy, measured in calories, that a person uses. Calories are used by people to breathe, circulate blood, digest food, maintain posture, and be physically active.
Gastrointestinal surgery (to treat obesity) See bariatric surgery.
Gestational diabetes (jest-AY-shun-ul) (dye-ah-BEE-teez) A type of diabetes mellitus that can occur when a woman is pregnant. In the second half of her pregnancy, a woman may have glucose (sugar) in her blood at a higher than normal level. In about 95 percent of cases, blood sugar returns to normal after the pregnancy is over. However, women who develop gestational diabetes are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
Glucose (GLU-kos) A building block for most carbohydrates. Digestion causes some carbohydrates to break down into glucose. After digestion, glucose is carried in the blood and goes to body cells where it is used for energy or stored.
HDL See high-density lipoprotein.
Healthy weight Compared to overweight or obese, a body weight that is less likely to be linked with any weight-related health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and high blood cholesterol. A body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered a healthy weight, though not all individuals with a BMI in this range may be at a healthy level of body fat; they may have more body fat tissue and less muscle. A person with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight, and a person with a BMI of 30 or more is considered obese.
High blood pressure Another word for “hypertension.” Blood pressure rises and falls throughout the day. An optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mmHg. When blood pressure stays high—greater than or equal to 140/90 mmHg—you have high blood pressure. With high blood pressure, the heart works harder, your arteries take a beating, and your chances of a stroke, heart attack, and kidney problems are greater. Prehypertension is blood pressure between 120 and 139 for the top number, or between 80 and 89 for the bottom number. If your blood pressure is in the prehypertension range, it is more likely that you will develop high blood pressure unless you take action to prevent it.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) (lip-o-PRO-teen) A unit made up of proteins and fats that carry cholesterol to the liver. The liver removes cholesterol from the body. HDL is commonly called “good” cholesterol. High levels of HDL cholesterol lower the risk of heart disease. An HDL level of 60 mg/dl or greater is considered high and is protective against heart disease. An HDL level less than 40 mg/dl is considered low and increases the risk for developing heart disease.
Hydrogenation (high-dro-jen-AY-shun) A chemical way to turn liquid fat (oil) into solid fat. This process creates a new fat called trans fatty acids. Trans fatty acids are found in margarine, shortening, and some commercial baked foods like cookies, crackers, muffins, and cereals. Eating trans fatty acids may raise heart disease risk.
Insulin (IN-sah-lin) A hormone made by the pancreas [see definition] that helps move glucose (sugar) from the blood to muscles and other tissues. Insulin controls blood sugar levels.
LDL See low-density lipoprotein.
Lipoprotein (lip-o-PRO-teen) Compounds made up of fat and protein that carry fats and fat-like substances, such as cholesterol, in the blood.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) (lip-o-PRO-teen) A unit made up of proteins and fats that carry cholesterol in the body. High levels of LDL cholesterol cause a buildup of cholesterol in the arteries. Commonly called “bad” cholesterol. High levels of LDL increase the risk of heart disease. An LDL level less than 100 mg/dl is considered optimal, 100 to 129 mg/dl is considered near or above optimal, 130 to 159 mg/dl is considered borderline high, 160 to 189 mg/dl is considered high, and 190 mg/dl or greater is considered very high.
Weight-control Information Network
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The Weight-control Information Network (WIN) is a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health, which is the Federal Government’s lead agency responsible for biomedical research on nutrition and obesity. Authorized by Congress (Public Law 103–43), WIN provides the general public, health professionals, the media, and Congress with up-to-date, science-based health information on weight control, obesity, physical activity, and related nutritional issues.
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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
NIH Publication No. 02-4976
Updated September 2007