Your Weight and Your Health; The Health Risks of Obesity and Being Overweight.

What diet works bestBody weight has an influence on all cause mortality and morbidity. The more overweight you are, the greater the effects on your body. Not only does it affect the length of life you have, but the quality of that life aswell. If you want to live a long life without struggling to get through every day, now is the time to start taking care of yourself in the right way.

Are you living with obesity or being overweight? Obesity is a disease that affects thousands of people around the world, including men, women, and children. According to the World Health Organization, in 2016 more than 1.9 billions adults over the age of 18 were overweight. Of these, 650 million were obese.1

Not yet updated for 2019, those statistics are staggering. Considered to be a chronic condition, being overweight can have a serious impact on both your physical and mental health, leading to both short and long-term health risks that are often irreversible.

Let’s break down the numerous health concerns and take a closer look at each of the side effects and risks that you face if you’re overweight or obese.

Obesity and healthType 2 Diabetes

The number one cause of type 2 diabetes is obesity. And it’s not just adults who are at risk, children who are overweight are also developing type 2 diabetes in startling numbers. Obesity can cause the body to resist insulin, which is the hormone necessary for regulating the body’s blood sugar. When this happens, blood sugar levels are elevated, and medication is usually prescribed.2

Best diet for meOnce you develop type 2 diabetes, medication may become something you need to take daily. However, studies show that weight loss and eating a healthy and nutritious diet may be able to keep blood sugar levels under control without the use of medication.

Obesity and healthHeart Concerns and Stroke

The risk of heart disease and stroke increases significantly when you’re carrying extra weight. It also increases the risk of mortality from a heart condition.4

Heart problems that can occur when you’re overweight or obese include the following:

Obesity and healthAtherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is a hardening of the arteries and can put you at risk for heart attack and other heart problems. Atherosclerosis occurs more often in people who are obese than those of a normal weight.5

Obesity and healthCoronary Artery Disease

Coronary problems such as heart attack, abnormal heart rhythm, and angina (chest pain from decreased oxygen to the heart) are more common with people who are overweight.6

Obesity and healthHigh Blood Pressure

When your body is carrying extra fat, blood pressure increases as your heart has to work harder to get enough blood to all the cells. Extra body fat can also do damage to the kidneys, which need to be healthy in order to help in the regulation of blood pressure. High blood pressure can be a leading cause of stroke and other heart problems. Medication is necessary to treat high blood pressure, but the good news is that weight loss can quickly lower blood pressure so you’re not at such a high risk. A 10 percent weight-loss may be able to lower blood pressure by an average of 4.3/3.8 mmHg.7,8

Obesity and healthStroke

Strokes happen when the flow of blood to the brain is impaired, which can cause brain cells to die. Being overweight can increase your chances of stroke due to high blood pressure and high blood sugar.9

Now that you can see the overwhelming evidence of the heart and stroke risks of being overweight, consider this: Losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can reduce the risks and improve your cardiovascular health.10

Obesity and healthOsteoarthritis and Joint Problems

Osteoarthritis and joint problems are a common side effect of obesity. The added pressure on the joints from the extra weight can damage cartilage, particularly in the knees, hips, and lower back. This increased pressure erodes the cartilage that’s necessary to keep the joints from rubbing together, causing pain and inflammation. Osteoarthritis can be very debilitating by limiting your physical activity and enjoyment of life. And the more sedentary you become, the harder it will be to lose weight.

Some people with obesity and joint problems need to give up doing some of the things they enjoy due to these mobility problems. When osteoarthritis and joint problems cause too much pain or lead to mobility issues, many people suffering from obesity have knee or hip replacements. Studies show that while osteoarthritis isn’t reversable, it can be successfully managed by losing even a small amount of weight and reducing the pressure on joints.11

Obesity and healthSleep Apnea

Sleep apnea occurs when you’re sleeping, and you stop breathing for a short period of time. This is caused by the extra fat that’s stored around the neck area, making the passage for air flow smaller than normal. This makes it difficult to breathe adequately and leads to interrupted sleep. People who have sleep apnea will suffer from a chronic lack of sleep, which can affect how they function during the day. Heart failure is another risk in severe cases of apnea that is caused by obesity.12

Other respiratory risks can also occur from obesity when the extra weight of the fat pushes against the chest wall, constricting the lungs and making it difficult to breathe.

While losing weight may not cure sleep apnea or other respiratory problems, it can ease the symptoms, making it easier for you to get a good night sleep.13

Obesity and healthCancer and Obesity

Studies have been done linking some cancers to obesity and being overweight. It’s believed that the fat cells in the body affect the growth of normal cells and can increase the risk of cancer. An excess in fat cells may also elevate estrogen hormone levels in women. High estrogen has been linked to some cancers in women such as breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancers.14

Some other cancers that may be linked to obesity include:

·        Thyroid Cancer

·        Gallbladder Cancer

·        Pancreatic Cancer

·        Liver Cancer

·        Kidney Cancer

·        Gastric Cancer

Studies are still ongoing, but there is overwhelming evidence that losing weight and maintaining a healthy body weight may reduce the risk of cancer, particularly for older overweight women who are at a high risk for endometrial cancer.15

Obesity and healthGallbladder Disease and Gallstones

When you’ve overweight, you’re at a higher risk of developing gallbladder disease and having gallstones. According to one study, 10 to 40 percent of the population will experience some type of problem with their gallbladder. Of this number, 69 percent are overweight or obese. The reason for this is that it’s believed that people who are overweight have more cholesterol in their bile which is more likely to cause the formation of gallstones.16

Losing weight at a steady and healthy rate may help reduce your risk of gallbladder disease and gallstones. Weight loss may also help to treat those who already suffer from gallbladder disease.17

Obesity and healthObesity and Gout

Gout is a type of arthritic disease that affects joints in the body. Gout is caused by a buildup of uric acid within the bloodstream. This buildup causes uric acid crystals to form in the joints, causing inflammation. The symptoms of gout are painful – redness, swelling, and inflammation. Severe attacks of gout can lead to immobility.

Studies show that gout is more common in people who are overweight. These same studies recommend weight loss to treat and prevent gout attacks.18

Obesity and healthFertility and Your Weight

It’s easier to conceive when you’re at a healthy body weight. Obesity and being overweight can make it harder for you to get pregnant. This is true for both women and men. For women, being overweight can cause hormonal problems which can affect your menstrual cycle. For men, extra body weight can lower testosterone levels and reduce the number of healthy sperm.19

Obesity and healthObesity Health Risks for Pregnancy

For women, being overweight or obese during pregnancy comes with a high risk for both mother and baby. Some of the complications and risks of obesity during pregnancy include:20

·        Higher risk of miscarriage and recurring miscarriages

·        Risk of stillbirth

·        Gestational diabetes

·        Preeclampsia (caused by high blood pressure)

·        High risk of delivery by C-section

·        Cardiovascular problems

If you’re planning a pregnancy in your future, consider losing weight to reduce the risk to you and your baby. As well, studies now show that obese women who are pregnant should lose weight during pregnancy to minimize some of the complications. Weight loss can be done safely with the help of your doctor.21

Obesity and healthPsychological Side Effects of Obesity

It’s not just physical side effects and risks that come from being overweight – the negative psychological impact that carrying extra weight has on your life is just as debilitating. The emotional and psychological effects are directly connected to the negative feelings that come with being overweight.

Food and eating are something that should bring us joy, yet for many people who are suffering from obesity, food becomes an enemy. This can lead to a variety of mental and psychological problems that often take years, if ever, for each individual to understand.22

Here are just some of the psychological problems that can affect people who are overweight and obese:

Obesity and healthLow Self Esteem

Low self esteem can cause you to overeat and being overweight can cause you to eat even more. So this quickly becomes a cycle that can be hard to break. Low self esteem often begins in childhood and more studies are being done to understand the correlation between this and obesity as adults.23

Obesity and healthDepression

The connection between the mind and body when it comes to obesity can be complex and often difficult to understand. People who are depressed are often obese as they use food to feel better and avoid dealing with their feelings. And people who are obese are often depressed from the shame and negativity that society presents towards people who are overweight. New research indicates that when no other health problems exist, that obesity is the cause of depression. However, despite many studies, it can hard to determine which is the symptom and which the cause – obesity or psychological problems.24

Obesity and healthAnxiety

Just as obesity and depression are linked, so are anxiety and being overweight. An unhealthy relationship with food can cause a lot of anxiety. This can lead to a lot of distorted thinking, such as a desire to sit down and enjoy food can be offset by the thinking that eating even a healthy meal will lead to weight gain. As with depression, it can be hard to determine if obesity is the cause of anxiety disorders or the other way around.

Obesity and healthEating Disorders

Body dissatisfaction can lead to unhealthy dieting and harmful relationships with food. This puts both women and men at a greater risk for obesity. While most of us have heard of anorexia and bulimia as food disorders, binge eating is less talked about. Yet more than one third of people who seek treatment for weight loss have problems with binge eating. This is just another of the connections and links between obesity and psychological problems.25

Obesity and healthChronic Stress

Being overweight or obese can cause a lot of chronic stress. One of the reasons for this is that people who are overweight often have to deal with weight discrimination both in the work place and in their personal lives. This can lead to higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Research shows that these elevated cortisol levels can lead to a cycle of even more weight gain.26

There are many support groups available to help you manage and work through some of the psychology of being obese and overweight. Find a support group near you or talk to your doctor for referral for counseling. Talking about what you’re feeling in connection with your relationship to food, and how it affects you, can be one of the first steps towards losing weight and getting to a body weight that is healthy for you.

Obesity and healthLowering Your Health Risks from Obesity

With so many health risks, consider losing weight to lower your risks. The positive physiological benefits alone of losing weight are tremendous and can have a significant impact on your quality of life. Losing just 5 percent of your current body weight, resulting in improved blood pressure, healthier levels of cholesterol, and more stable levels of blood sugar. The positive effects of losing that 5 percent can give you the encouragement to lose the next 5 percent.27

What diet works best

References:

1.      World Health Organization. (n.d.). Obesity and overweight. World Health Organization. Retrieved on March 17, 2019 from https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight

2.      Leitner, DR. & Fruhbeck, G. (2017). Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes: Two Diseases with a Need for Combined Treatment Strategies – EASO Can Lead the Way. Obes Facts. 10(5): 483-492. Retrieved on March 17, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5741209/

3.      Joslin Diabetes Center. (2016). Overweight and Obese Type 2 Patients Show Significant Improvements with Structured Nutrition Therapy According to New Study. Joslin Diabetes Center. Retrieved on March 17, 2019 from https://www.joslin.org/overweight-obese-type-2-improvements-with-structured-nutrition-therapy.HTML

4.      Akil, L, & Ahmad, HA. (2012). Relationships between Obesity and Cardiovascular Diseases in Four Southern States and Colorado. J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2011: 22(4 Suppl): 61-72. Retrieved on March 17, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3250069/

5.      Lovren, F. & Teoh, H. (2015). Obesity and atherosclerosis: mechanistic insights. Can J Cardiol. 31(2): 177-83. Retrieved on March 17, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25661552

6.      Jin, J. (2013). Obesity and the Heart. JAMA. 310(19): 2113. Retrieved on March 17, 2019 from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/1779537

7.      Jiang, SZ. & Lu, W. (2016). Obesity and hypertension. Exp Ther Med. 12(4): 2395-2399. Retrieved on March 17, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5038894/

8.      Delaney, J. (n.d.). Hypertension and Obesity: How Weight-loss Affects Hypertension. OAC (Obesity Action). Retrieved on March 17, 2019 from https://www.obesityaction.org/community/article-library/hypertension-and-obesity-how-weight-loss-affects-hypertension/

9.      Kernan, WN. (2013). A Stubbornly Obvious Target for Stroke Prevention. AHA Journals. January 2013, Vol 44: Iss 1. Retrieved on March 17, 2019 from https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/strokeaha.111.639922

10.   Washington University School of Medicine. (2011). Moderate weight loss improves heart health. Washington University School of Medicine. January 2013, Vol 44: Iss 1. Retrieved on March 17, 2019 from https://medicine.wustl.edu/news/moderate-weight-loss-improves-heart-health/

11.   King, LK. & March, L. (2013). Obesity & osteoarthritis. Indian J Med Res. 138(2): 185-193. Retrieved on March 17, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3788203/

12.   Romero-Corral, A. & Caples, SM. (2010). Interactions Between Obesity and Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Chest. 137(3): 711-719. Retrieved on March 17, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3021364/

13.   Sleep Apnea. (2017). Your weight matters: obesity and sleep apnea. Sleep Apnea. Retrieved on March 17, 2019 from https://www.sleepapnea.org/weight-matters-obesity-and-sleep-apnea/

14.   National Cancer Institute. (n.d.). Obesity and Cancer. National Cancer Institute. Retrieved on March 17, 2019 from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/obesity/obesity-fact-sheet

15.   Luo, J. & Hendryx, M. (2017). Intentional weight loss and cancer risk. Oncotarget. 8(47): 81719-81720. Retrieved on March 17, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5669836/

16.   Ferreira, LM. (n.d.). Gallbladder Disease and Obesity. Obesity News Today. Retrieved on March 17, 2019 from https://obesitynewstoday.com/gallbladder-disease-and-obesity/

17.   Scott. JA. (2010). Gallstones: The Obesity Connection. Everyday Health. Retrieved on March 17, 2019 from https://www.everydayhealth.com/gallbladder/gallstones-the-obesity-connection.aspx

18.   Nielsen, SM. & Bartels, EM. (2017). Weight loss for overweight and obese individuals with gout: a systematic review of longitudinal studies. Annuls of the Rheumatic Diseases. Volume 76, Iss 11. Retrieved on March 17, 2019 from https://ard.bmj.com/content/76/11/1870

19.   Jungheim, ES. & Travieso, JL. (2012). Obesity and Reproductive Function. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 39(4): 479-493. Retrieved on March 17, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3520133/

20.   Stubert, J. & Reister, F. (2018). The Risks Associated With Obesity in Pregnancy. Dtsch Arztebl Int. 115(16): 276-283. Retrieved on March 17, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5954173/

21.   Robillard, PY. & Dekker, G. (2018). Relationship between pre-pregnancy maternal BMI and optimal weight gain in singleton pregnancies. Heliyon. 4(2018): e00615. Retrieved on March 17, 2019 from https://www.heliyon.com/article/e00615

22.   Muller, R. (2013). [Psychological consequences of obesity]. Ther Umsch. 70(2): 87-91. Retrieved on March 17, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23385186

23.   Ternouth, A. & Collier, D. (2009). Childhood emotional problems and self-perceptions predict weight gain in a longitudinal regression model. BMC Medicine. 2009 7:46. Retrieved on March 17, 2019 from https://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1741-7015-7-46

24.   University of South Australia. (2018). ‘Strongest evidence yet’ that being obese causes depression. Science Daily. Retrieved on March 17, 2019 from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181112095951.htm

25.   Statistics & Research on Eating Disorders. (n.d.). National Eating Disorders. Retrieved on March 17, 2019 from https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/statistics-research-eating-disorders

26.   Jackson, SE. (2106). Weight discrimination tied to chronic stress in adults with obesity. Obesity. 2016: 21657. Retrieved on March 17, 2019 from  https://www.healio.com/endocrinology/obesity/news/in-the-journals/%7B36cf76e3-fa41-4d7d-8d97-cec3ffe63483%7D/weight-discrimination-tied-to-chronic-stress-in-adults-with-obesity

27.   Magkos, F. & Fraterrigo, G. (2106). Effects of Moderate and Subsequent Progressive Weight Loss on Metabolic Function and Adipose Tissue Biology in Humans with Obesity. Clinical and Translational Report. Volume 23, Iss 4. Retrieved on March 17, 2019 from  https://www.healio.com/endocrinology/obesity/news/in-the-journals/%7B36cf76e3-fa41-4d7d-8d97-cec3ffe63483%7D/weight-discrimination-tied-to-chronic-stress-in-adults-with-obesity