The past 20 years has seen a dramatic increase in the number of overweight and obese Americans, both young and old. The good news is that obesity can be prevented, for the most part, by a combination of a healthy diet and regular physical activity. Here are ACE's top 10 reasons for maintaining a healthy weight:

ACE'S TOP 10 TO MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT

  • LONGER LIFE EXPECTANCY

    People who are fit tend to live longer, while people who are obese have an overall mortality rate almost twice that of non-obese people. Even mild-to-moderate overweight people substantially increase their risk for premature death.

  • HEALTHY WEIGHT, HEALTHY HEART

    Excess weight increases cardiac risk factors, while a healthy weight helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke. If all Americans had a healthy body composition, the incidence of coronary heart disease would drop by more than 24 percent.

  • REDUCED RISK OF CERTAIN CANCERS

    Obesity is associated with an increased risk for breast, colon and kidney cancer.

  • LOWER INCIDENCE OF DIABETES

    Individuals with a healthy weight are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. The incidence of type 2 diabetes among Americans has steadily grown as the incidence of obesity has increased.

  • HEALTHY BONES AND MUSCLES

    Excess weight stresses joints, muscles and bones.

  • BETTER POSTURE

    Evenly distributed weight along the spine and body helps maintain proper posture, which is important for overall back health.

  • GREATER MOBILITY

    A healthy body weight makes leisure activities with friends and family more enjoyable and more comfortable.

  • IMPROVED SELF-ESTEEM

    Maintaining a healthy body weight increases self-esteem and helps maintain a positive self-image.

  • HIGHER ENERGY LEVELS

    Excess weight can make everyday activities more tiresome and laborious.

  • BETTER QUALITY SLEEP

    Maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent obstructive sleep apnea, a blockage in the throat or upper airway that temporarily halts breathing and disrupts sleep patterns.