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Pacific Island Women's Health: Overweight and Obesity

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Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders have high rates of overweight and obesity. This contributes to the high rates of health problems common in this group.

Being overweight or obese increases your risk of:

- Heart disease

- Type 2 diabetes

- High blood pressure

- Stroke

- Breathing problems

- Arthritis

- Gallbladder disease

- Sleep apnea

- Some cancers

Obesity or overweight is measured with a body mass index (BMI). The taller you are, the more weight you can carry. And shorter people can't carry as much weight. So, the BMI shows the relationship of weight to height.

For instance, if you are 5 feet 4 inches tall and weigh 145 pounds, your BMI is 25. But if you are 5 feet 4 inches tall and weigh 174 pounds, your BMI is 30. Women with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 are considered overweight. Women with a BMI of 30 or more are considered obese.

Talk to your doctor to find out what BMI you should aim for. If you are overweight or obese, losing weight can lower your risk of many health problems. And physical activity is one key part of weight loss and keeping a healthy weight. Health benefits are gained by doing the following each week:

Aerobic activity that includes:

- 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity

- 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity

- A combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity

- Muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days of the week

This physical activity should be in addition to your routine activities of daily living, such as cleaning or spending a few minutes walking from the parking lot to your office. If weight loss is your goal, you may need to spend more time doing aerobic activity to see the effects.

Eating healthy meals that focus on portion control also plays a role in weight loss and keeping a healthy weight. If you need to lose weight, ask your doctor to help you with a weight-loss plan that includes healthy meal planning and physical activity.

More resources on minority women's health

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.