Health Risks of Obesity

Obesity has become a major health concern in many countries. An overweight person is considered obese if the body mass index reaches 30, while an obese person is diagnosed as "morbidly obese" once BMI reaches 40 (or, in a few cases, "malignant obese" if BMI reaches 50). Being overweight also puts a person at risk against life-threatening diseases, which can be seen after 10 to 30 years of being obese.

Here are what you should learn about the health risks involved in obesity.

Abdominal obesity carries greater health risks – People with central abdominal obesity, or simply put "a spare tire around the belly", have a higher risk against weight-related ailments such as cardiovascular diseases and insulin resistance syndrome. Women are diagnosed with central abdominal obesity if waist circumference is above 35 inches, while men’s central obesity begins with a measurement of 40 inches.

Premature death – According to a research by Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 300,000 American deaths a year are related to obesity. The risk of dying prematurely increases as the person increases weight, even in moderate gains of 10 to 20 pounds.

Heart disease – Different heart ailments such as heart attack, congestive heart failure, sudden cardiac arrest, angina or chest pain among others increase in persons who are overweight or obese. High blood pressure is twice as common among obese adults compared to those at a healthy weight.

Stroke – The process of atherosclerosis, the narrowing of the arteries that may lead to formation of blood clots that lead to stroke, is accelerated by high blood pressure, smoking, high-cholesterol diet, and lack of exercise.

Type 2 diabetes – A weight increase of 11 to 18 pounds raises a person’s risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes to twice that of individuals who have not gain weight. This may be the reason why over 80 percent of people with diabetes are either overweight or obese.

Cancer – Increased weight gain is also associated with an increased risk of some types of cancer ranging from colon, gall bladder, prostate, kidney, endometrial (cancer of the lining of the uterus), and post-menopausal breast cancer.

Fatty liver disease – Insulin resistance, a metabolic disorder wherein cells become insensitive to the effects of insulin, is the main cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. One of the most common factors for this is obesity, particularly central abdominal disease. Studies indicate a correlation between body mass index and the degree of liver damage.

Chronic venous insufficiency – Obesity may not a direct cause of chronic venous insufficiency, but it is an important risk factor because it leads to raised blood pressure, a sedentary lifestyle, and musculoskeletal problems. Obese people also have an increased risk of other vascular-related diseases caused by inadequate blood flow to the extremities.

Gall bladder disease – The risk of having gallstones is about 3 times greater for overweight people. These symptomatic gallstones tend to appear more as a person has increased body mass index.

Breathing problems – Obstructive sleep apnea, or interruption of breathing during sleep, is more common in obese people because it is associated with a higher prevalence of asthma and severe bronchitis, as well as other breathing difficulties.

Arthritis – Musculoskeletal disorders are more prevalent among obese patients, especially those diagnosed with morbid or malignant obesity. Studies show that increased weight is a strong determining factor for symptoms of osteoarthritis, especially in the knees.

Risk during pregnancy – Obesity has an effect on the health of both mother and new-born baby, during and after pregnancy. Being pregnant while obese has a higher risk of death in both the baby and the mother, and also raises the risk of high blood pressure in the mother by as much as 10 times. Obesity during pregnancy is also associated with an increased risk of birth defects.