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Lifestyle changes are the main way to treat obesity. Weight loss happens when a person burns more calories than he or she takes in. This is done with:


Calories will need to be lowered. This will result in weight loss. A dietitian can help with meal planning and serving sizes.

The diet should have:

  • High-fiber foods, such as fruits and veggies
  • Whole grains, such as brown rice
  • Lean meats, such as fish

The diet should avoid or limit:

  • Saturated and trans fats
  • Fast foods
  • Processed foods, such as crackers
  • Sugar, such as soda
  • Simple carbohydrates, such as candy


Diet changes and exercise changes must be done together. Adults with obesity should aim for 2.5 hours or more of moderate activity per week. Children should aim for at least 20 minutes a day of vigorous activity. Children should work up to 60 minutes per day. A certified athletic trainer can help make a workout plan.

Limiting Screen Time

Children and teens should limit screen time to 1 to 2 hours per day. Active children are more likely to lose weight.


Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline on pharmacological management of obesity can be found in J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2015 Feb;100(2):342.

Obesity in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated November 30, 2018. Accessed January 31, 2020.

Obesity in children and adolescents. EBSCO DynaMed website. Updated October 30, 2019. Accessed January 31, 2020.

Obesity. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: Updated January 2020. Accessed January 31, 2020.

Treatment. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: Accessed January 31, 2020.

Last reviewed November 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD  Last Updated: 2/5/2021