Nowadays, many people are aware of at least some of the health risks posed by obesity. Wondering how to determine if you are obese? Do this simple calculation for body mass index (BMI): weight (in kilograms) divided by your height (in meters) squared. You're underweight if your BMI is less than 18, normal if it's from 18 to 22, overweight if it's from 23 to 30, and obese if it's higher than 30.

The BMI formula shows us that the number on the scale is not the only critical factor in determining what's healthy and what isn't; body fat distribution is also key. Fat stored within the abdomen is called apple or android (manlike) obesity. It is associated with increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension, and some forms of cancer. Fat around the hips and thighs, which is more common among women, is called pear or gynoid (womanlike) obesity. It seems relatively harmless, so some experts call it benign obesity.

Overeating, which increases both the size and number of fat cells, is usually the top cause of obesity. Genetics also plays a role as it determines a person's body weight and body composition. A third major factor is inactivity.

If you're looking to lose pounds--or keep them off--scroll down for eight tips that just might help you.

Read these other articles for more health tips:
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(First published in Good Housekeeping Magazine; Food section as "Eat Right"; flashbox photo by lululemon athletica via Flickr Creative Commons; adapted for use in Female Network)
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