It is estimated that up to three-quarters of the US population is overweight – and probably ignoring the consequences of obesity. Obesity brings about significant health ramifications and puts people at serious risk of major health complications and debilitating diseases.
Some of the most concerning health conditions that can develop as a direct result of obesity are outlined below.
1. High Blood Pressure
Increased blood pressure is one of the most well-known consequences of obesity. Of course, high blood pressure leads to a higher risk of several other serious diseases, including stroke.
Overweight people are about 1.7 times more likely to suffer from high blood pressure compared with people of a healthy weight, while the rate for obese people is a 2.6 times increase compared with people of normal weight (Nguyen 2008). Other potential diseases that can develop as a result of high blood pressure include kidney disease and atherosclerosis.
2. Chronic Inflammation
The low level sustained inflammation that occurs in obese people brings a higher risk of serious diseases like Alzheimerís disease, heart disease, and cancer. Excessive fat tissue can trigger an inflammatory response due to increased hormone secretion, which has an effect on metabolism in the body.
Chronic inflammation should be considered the gravest among the consequences of obesity, as many experts consider it the underlying cause of all degenerative disease and immune suppressor. Even a mildly suppressed immune system would lead to more colds, flu, sore throats and other health nuisances.
The joints become stressed when excessive weight is placed on them due to obesity. It has been clearly shown that obesity is directly associated with the risk of osteoarthritis. This is particularly true in joints that have to bear weight, such as the hip and the knees.
A review of 21 studies related to various consequences of obesity highlighted the connection between knee osteoarthritis and obesity found that the risk of osteoarthritis was increased by 35% when there was a 5 point increase in the body mass index (BMI) (Jiang 2012).
4. Sleep Disorders
The most common cause of obstructive sleep apnea is obesity. The rate of obesity amongst obstructive sleep apnea sufferers is about 70%. The cycle of poor sleep quality that comes about as a result of obstructive sleep apnea can lead to increased appetite, which leads to increasingly impaired sleep quality and ultimately, increased weight gain.
5. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
An increase in body fat and body mass results in more pressure being put on the stomach and esophagus, resulting in an increase in Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). The condition occurs the contents of the stomach is refluxed into the esophagus.
The lower esophageal valve loses its elasticity, making it increasingly difficult for acid to be retained in the stomach. Studies have shown that obese people have a 94% higher rate of GERD complications compared with people of normal weight (Hampel 2005). An additional finding was an increased rate esophageal adenocarcinoma as a result of GERD in overweight people.
6. Insulin Resistance
Obesity is a major risk factor in insulin resistance, which can then lead to the development of type 2 diabetes. When excessive increases in insulin are experienced on a regular basis due to over eating consistently, fat mass is increased and inflammation occurs which can bring about insulin resistance. Furthermore, insulin has a natural appetite suppressing effect, which can become ineffective in obese people who are insulin resistant, resulting in further excessive eating. (Hagobian 2010)
7. Cancer – YES, Cancer is one of the Consequences of Obesity
Obesity is known to increase the risk of a number of types of cancer. Thyroid cancer risk is thought to increase in obese individuals due to increased insulin levels. Breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women has an increased risk of occurrence in obese women which is thought to be a result of systemic inflammation and irregular insulin activity which are both known to encourage tumor growth. Additionally, the risk of colorectal cancer is estimated to increase by 7% for every 2 points of BMI increase.(Sung 2011)
Nguyen, T., and Lau, D. C. W. The obesity epidemic and its impact on hypertension. Can J Cardiol. 2012b;28(3):326ñ33.
Jiang, L., Tian, W., Wang, Y., et al. Body mass index and susceptibility to knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Joint Bone Spine. 2012;79(3):291ñ7
Hampel, H., Abraham, N. S., and El-Serag, H. B. Meta-analysis: obesity and the risk for gastroesophageal reflux disease and its complications. Ann Intern Med. 2005;143(3):199ñ211
Hagobian, T. A., and Braun, B. Physical activity and hormonal regulation of appetite: sex differences and weight control. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2010;38(1):25ñ30
Sung, M.-K., Yeon, J.-Y., Park, S.-Y., Park, J. H. Y., and Choi, M.-S. Obesity-induced metabolic stresses in breast and colon cancer. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2011;1229:61ñ8.