Health Implications Of Obesity

An estimated 300,000 deaths per year may be attributable to obesity. Individuals who are obese have a 50 to 100 percent increased risk of premature death from all causes compared with individuals with a healthy weight. Obese persons have more than 10 times the risk of type 2 diabetes and 3 times the risk of coronary heart disease of those who are lean.

An obese individual is at increased risk for:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood cholesterol levels
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Stroke
  • Sleep apnea (interrupted breathing during sleeping) and respiratory problems
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis Complications in pregnancy and childbirth

Conditions aggravated by obesity include arthritis, varicose veins, and gallbladder disease. In addition, surgery is riskier for obese individuals.

Obesity creates a psychological burden that in terms of suffering may be its greatest adverse effect. In American and other Westernized societies there are powerful messages that people, especially women, should be thin and that to be fat is a sign of poor self-control. Negative attitudes about the obese have been reported in children and adults, health-care professionals, and the overweight themselves. People's negative attitudes toward the obese often translate into discrimination in employment opportunities, job earnings, and other areas. Losing weight often decreases blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels and brings diabetes under better control. Although obesity does not cause these medical conditions, losing weight can help reduce some of their negative effects.

mini-summary

  1. An obese individual is at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, sleep apnea, and certain types of cancer.
  2. Obesity (BMI over 30) creates a psychological burden and discrimination.
  3. Losing weight—and keeping it off—improves health.
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