Consequences of Obesity: Disabilities, Diseases and Conditions
Every year, millions of people turn to dieting, fitness and medication to combat their obesity. But 90% of the people who participate in diets and weight loss programs do not see significant and sustained weight loss, according to the National Institutes of Health.
However, studies demonstrate that weight loss surgery — when compared with non-surgical treatments — yields the longest period of sustained weight loss in patients who have failed other therapies.
It’s important to maintain a healthy weight because — over time — obesity can significantly impact your health; your lifespan may be cut short by 15-20 years and you’ll be at a greater risk for long-term disabilities, diseases and conditions that could be avoided. In fact, obesity recently surpassed tobacco as the number one cause of preventable death in terms of years lost.
Keep reading to find out more about some of the most common health problems linked to obesity.
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One of the more common health effects of obesity, osteoarthritis causes joint pain and stiffness, particularly in your hands, hips, knees and lower back. Excess weight can add more stress on joints and cartilage, which causes them to degenerate over time.
This causes you to stop breathing while sleeping, which can result in a wide variety of problems, such as bad sleep and having trouble focusing, but it also can lead to more serious problems, like heart failure.
Obesity is one of the main causes of sleep apnea because of the additional fat tissue that’s stored around the neck. This can reduce the size of airways in your throat and make it more difficult to breathe while sleeping.
Insulin is a hormone that helps your body regulate blood sugar levels; when you eat too much sugar, your body releases insulin to bring down the level of sugar in your blood. And when you maintain a diet high in sugar, over time, your body can develop a resistance to insulin, and it no longer works to bring down blood sugar.
In fact, Type I diabetes is often the result of the body’s inability to make insulin, so Type I diabetics have to manually test and manage their blood sugar levels.
Type II Diabetes
Type II diabetes is also sometimes referred to as adult-onset diabetes because it is entirely preventable. Generally, Type II diabetes is the result of a poor diet, lack of exercise and excess body weight located around the waist, although family history and genetics also play a role.
Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver
This occurs when fatty tissue builds up in the liver, and although it’s mostly associated with alcohol consumption, it also affects people who are obese. Over time, this fat can lead to severe liver damage, cirrhosis or even liver failure.
These are some of the more serious health issues associated with obesity — some are even life-threatening. But, because heart problems typically develop over time, the impact of obesity on your cardiovascular health may not be apparent immediately.
Typically, cardiovascular issues begin with the onset of high blood pressure, which is the measurement of how hard blood is pressing against the wall of your arteries.
High Blood Pressure
Although there are no specific symptoms of high blood pressure, it often leads to or causes more serious problems related to your heart, including heart attacks and strokes.
Your heart is the pump that keeps blood flowing through your body. Having a large body means your heart generally needs to pump harder in order to keep blood flowing throughout, and that increased strain puts your heart at a higher risk of overexerting itself.
High blood pressure is the leading cause of strokes, which occurs when the blood flow to a part of your brain stops. This results in brain cells dying, which can make it difficult to walk, speak and even cause numbness in parts of the body.
Obesity is believed to be responsible for about 8 percent of all cancers in the US, according to the American Cancer Society. Those cancers include:
- Breast cancer — specifically in women past menopause
- Colon and rectum cancer
- Endometrium — lining of the uterus
Obesity may increase your risk for several other types of cancer as well.