The Health Risks of Obesity

Being extremely overweight is a problem larger than vanity. It generally takes a toll on quality of life. Overweight individuals often find day-to-day activities such as household chores and walking up stairs to be more difficult. They may be discriminated against or otherwise fear social situations due to lack of confidence. For this and other health reasons, those struggling with weight issues commonly suffer from depression.

In addition to social and psychological problems, there are serious health risks associated with obesity. Conditions related to morbid obesity include:

  • High Cholesterol: Cholesterol is found in lipids in the bloodstream. Although it may be inherited, it's often caused by poor diet and lack of exercise. In most cases, it can be reversed by switching to a low fat diet and increasing exercise. In some cases, medication is helpful in lowering cholesterol.
  • Hypertension: Like high cholesterol, high blood pressure can eventually lead to heart disease. Although it's easily detected, it can be present for years without any symptoms. It is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: Commonly called adult-onset diabetes, type 2 diabetes affects the way your body metabolizes sugar by either resisting or not producing enough insulin. Healthy diet, exercise and weight loss can help treat or prevent type 2 diabetes. Although the exact cause is unknown, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are known contributors.
  • Cancer: Obesity is thought to be a risk factor for certain cancers, such as uterine, ovarian, cervical, breast, colorectal and prostate cancer. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that nearly 30 percent of global cancer cases can be attributed in part to excess weight gain and inactivity.
  • Breathing Disorders: Fatal breathing conditions such as asthma and sleep apnea are often caused or exacerbated by being overweight.
  • Gallbladder Disease: Increased cholesterol and body fat are key components in the development of gallbladder disease. About 25 percent of obese people develop gallbladder stones and require surgery as a result.

A person is generally considered obese when his/her body mass index is 30 or higher. However, someone with a normal BMI could still be considered obese if they have a very high body fat percentage, known as normal weight obesity.

Regardless of your weight, a healthy lifestyle complete with a balanced diet and adequate exercise is imperative to reducing your risk for obesity-related complications.