Health Effects of Obesity
Obesity is the accumulation of excess fat within the body. It is a chronic disease caused by a combination of environmental, genetic and personal factors. Eating a diet rich in sugar and fat, neglecting exercise and a variety of unhealthy lifestyle habits can contribute to the development of obesity.
As you gain weight your risk of experiencing health problems increases. These secondary health problems are called obesity-related diseases or co-morbid conditions. Obesity-related diseases are often preventable, but are becoming more common because of the rise in obesity rates throughout the United States.
Obesity increases your risk for:
- Physical health problems
- Mental health disease
- Joint pain and physical injury
The Medical Cost of Obesity
Every year, obesity is responsible for about $147 billion in medical bills nationwide. In fact, the average obese person will pay more than $1,400 annually in medical costs directly as a result of the additional health complications associated with carrying excess weight. In many cases, these medical costs are for conditions that could be prevented through weight management.
Often, the personal cost of obesity is much greater than the financial expense. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke, complications that can be fatal.
When you are overweight or obese, you are at increased risk for developing:
- High blood pressure (Hypertension)
- Hyperlipidemia (High triglycerides and poor cholesterol levels)
- High blood sugar (Hyperglycemia)
- Type-2 diabetes
- Osteoarthritis (Joint pain)
- Obstructive Sleep apnea
- Metabolic syndrome
- Heart disease
Obesity can also increase your risk of developing certain forms of cancer, including breast, colon, gallbladder and prostate cancer.
Mental Health and Obesity
People who are overweight or obese are more likely to experience mental health disorders such as depression and severe anxiety. They are also more likely to be bullied and increases chances of social isolation and similar experiences that can reduce personal confidence and self-esteem. Obesity has also been shown to negatively influence:
- Energy levels
- Body image
Treatment for Obesity Related Disease
Losing weight is the most effective method of treatment for obesity related diseases. In some cases the onset of obesity related disease can be entirely reversed through successful weight management.
You do not have to reach your weight loss goal to begin experiencing the health benefits of weight loss. Losing just five to 10 percent of your excess body weight can result in lasting changes to your health and wellness level.
Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes is a medical condition that prevents the body from properly processing blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes is highly associated with excess weight and afflicts many obese people, putting them at risk of disabling symptoms and complications.
Because type 2 diabetes and its precursors are closely tied to obesity, weight loss is often all that is needed to improve or resolve them. Even a moderate amount of weight loss can help many people reduce diabetes medications and even put the disease into remission.
Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that occurs when the airway is temporarily obstructed during sleep, causing disruptions in breathing. These interruptions can last a few seconds at a time or more than a minute, and may occur between 5-30 times over the course of an hour. Breathing often resumes with loud snoring choking or gasping sound, which can further interrupt sleep.
Obesity and Joint Pain
Obesity is among the leading causes of immobility in adults. An accumulation of excess body weight increases pressure on the joints, especially the hips, knees and ankles. Over time, excess weight can cause cartilage in these joints to wear down, and this may lead to severe pain and difficulty walking.
Arthritis is a chronic condition caused by inflammation in the joints. It can develop at any joint in the body, including the ankles and knees, the hips, the wrists or elbows. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, sometimes called wear-and-tear arthritis.
In small quantities, fat is useful to our health. Unfortunately, we often eat more fat than necessary for benefits like nutrient absorption and joint protection. Our bodies do what they can to push excess fat into storage, leading to weight gain, but often the excess fat will also build-up in the blood stream.
This may lead to unhealthy blood levels of fats or lipids such as cholesterol and triglycerides . When this occurs, the condition is known as hyperlipidemia.
Understanding Metabolic Syndrome
Being overweight or obese increases your risk for a series of health problems. One common obesity-related condition is metabolic syndrome.
What is Metabolic Syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is an umbrella term for a collection of medical conditions that commonly develop in association with obesity. There are five primary risk factors considered in metabolic syndrome. If at least three of them occur together, the condition is diagnosed.
Blood pressure measures the force of blood against the walls of the arteries as the heart beats. If this pressure remains consistently high, this can cause a number of health issues. According to the National Institute of Health, approximately 1 in 3 adults in the US have hypertension, also known as high blood pressure.
People who have hypertension often experience few or no symptoms, but over time, their bodies may still suffer harmful effects, including heart, blood vessel and kidney damage.
Understanding Acid Reflux
Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a chronic condition resulting in the contents of the stomach flowing back up and irritating the esophagus. Normally, a muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) would prevent anything from returning up through the esophagus, but due to factors such as obesity, pregnancy or smoking, the LES may become weakened and unable to properly block the stomach’s content.ay.
Obesity and Heart Disease
Heart disease is one of the leading preventable causes of death in the United States. Every year, about 600,000 Americans die from heart disease. That is one death every minute related to heart disease. If you are overweight or obese, you are at higher risk of developing heart disease. Losing weight is one of the more effective ways of reducing that risk.
Joint Pain and Obesity
Obesity and excessive weight can lead to unnecessary wear and tear on your body. Carrying extra weight makes it more difficult to move around and accelerates the wear on your joints and your spine. Extra weight makes it difficult to perform simple tasks that rely on your joints for movement such as squatting, running or climbing stairs. It can also lead to joint disorders such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.