Obesity is a serious, chronic disease that is defined as weighing more than what is healthy for a given height. Obesity affects both adults and children and is caused primarily by an imbalance in energy between calories consumed and calories burned. The most visible sign of obesity in adults is excessive amounts of body fat. However, it is important to remember that obesity is not just about appearance — it negatively affects virtually every aspect of health. Obesity contributes to several debilitating, disabling, and deadly diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and various malignancies. Excessive fat accumulation in the body reduces life expectancy and quality of life while also raising healthcare expenses.

This article briefly summarizes associations between obesity and various health problems, while also summarizing promising strategies for obesity prevention.

Common Health Problems Of Obesity

Obesity and Diabetes

Obesity is a triggering factor for diabetes and is strongly associated with insulin resistance. Having excess body fat poses a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Various research studies have demonstrated that obese people are approximately 6 times more likely to have high blood sugar. If you are at risk for type 2 diabetes, moderate weight loss may prevent or lower your chance of acquiring type 2 diabetes. Additionally, making lifestyle modifications can help delay the onset of the condition.

Obesity and Cardiovascular Diseases

Numerous studies have demonstrated a direct association between excess body weight and various cardiovascular risk factors. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and inflammation all rise along with BMI. Increased risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular death results from these changes. The good news is that losing 5 to 10 percent of body weight will reduce other cardiovascular risk factors like blood pressure, LDL (bad cholesterol), and triglycerides.

Obesity and Cancer

The association between obesity and cancer is not quite as clear as compared to diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Studies have reported links between obesity and 13 types of cancers, including colorectal, breast, uterine, esophageal, kidney, pancreatic, gallbladder cancers. Emerging evidence indicates that this is primarily due to inflammation caused by visceral fat – the fat that surrounds your vital organs.

Obesity and Depression

Studies of the effect of obesity on specific health outcomes have confirmed that depression and obesity feed each other. It has been demonstrated that people who carry excess weight were more likely to have disabling mental health conditions than people with healthy weights.

Obesity and Respiratory Disease

The accumulation of abdominal fat can influence various aspects of respiratory functions. Obesity can increase the risk of developing asthma in both men and women by 50 percent. Similarly, obstructive sleep apnea is another common respiratory disease that has been linked with obesity.

Obesity and Cognitive Function

Findings from larger studies have found that excess body weight impacts brain structure and function, as well as impaired cognitive function.  Obesity is an established risk factor for Alzheimer’s Disease(AD) and related dementias (ADRD).

Obesity and Other Health Conditions

A number of chronic medical problems have been linked to excess weight. These include the development of health conditions, including:

·         Gallstones

·         Gout

·         Chronic kidney disease

·         Osteoarthritis

·         Reproductive problems

·         Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Obesity Prevention Strategies

Given the adverse consequences of obesity on multiple aspects of health, it makes sense to practise obesity prevention strategies, that include:

·         Limiting unhealthy foods and drinks (red meat, processed meat, potatoes, refined cereals, sweets and sugary drinks.

·         Including in your diet a variety of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, low-fat and fat-free dairy products, and a variety of lean protein foods.

·         Increasing moderate to intense physical activity 3 to 4 days each week

·         Limiting exposure to screens, television, and other ‘sit time’.

·         Enhancing sleep

·         Skipping saturated fats

·         Limiting artificial sweeteners

·         Lowering stress

Final thoughts 

Obesity is a widespread health issue that affects millions of people around the world. Characterized by having a high percentage of body fat – and a body mass index (BMI) of 30 – obesity has emerged as a significant health issue. However, obesity is not a permanent condition. Like many chronic conditions, obesity is preventable. Getting the obesity problem under control entails incorporating small but significant changes. By focussing on the two biggest contributors to obesity—diet and activity—you can achieve and maintain a healthy weight. These were some Health Problems Of Obesity that you should keep an eye on.

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