In the United States, obesity among adults and overweight among children and adolescents have increased markedly since 1980. Among adults, obesity is defined as a body mass index of 30 or greater. Among children and adolescents, overweight is defined as a body mass index for age at or above the 95th percentile of a specified reference population. In 2003-2004, 32.9% of adults 20-74 years old were obese and more than 17% of teenagers (age, 12-19 y) were overweight. Obesity varies by age and sex, and by race-ethnic group among adult women. A higher body weight is associated with an increased incidence of a number of conditions, including diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and with an increased risk of disability. Obesity is associated with a modestly increased risk of all-cause mortality. However, the net effect of overweight and obesity on morbidity and mortality is difficult to quantify. It is likely that a gene-environment interaction, in which genetically susceptible individuals respond to an environment with increased availability of palatable energy-dense foods and reduced opportunities for energy expenditure, contributes to the current high prevalence of obesity. Evidence suggests that even without reaching an ideal weight, a moderate amount of weight loss can be beneficial in terms of reducing levels of some risk factors, such as blood pressure. Many studies of dietary and behavioral treatments, however, have shown that maintenance of weight loss is difficult. The social and economic costs of obesity and of attempts to prevent or to treat obesity are high.