What Are The Health Risks Associated With Obesity?


5 Min Read

Obesity may cause arteriosclerosis leading to strokes, insulin resistance leading to type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, fetal abnormalities, miscarriages, and pregnancy complications. The extra pounds strain your joints, diminishing mobility and stamina. Psychological ill-effects include low self-esteem, depression, and a negative self-image. Exercise regularly and eat healthy to maintain a normal BMI.

Obesity is so rampant today that it is often referred to as the “obesity epidemic.” Men, women, and even children fall into the weight trap and find the quality of their life diminishing. But obesity is more than an inconvenience that hinders your day-to-day life. If left unaddressed, it can cause serious harm to your body and affect your well-being in ways that can be crippling.

A healthy body composition is one in which organ, muscle, fat, fluid, and bone weight are appropriately distributed. The simplest way to assess obesity is via waist circumference (WC). The higher the WC, the higher is the truncal adiposity or excess central fat distribution. Body Mass Index (BMI) is another important marker of obesity. A BMI of 30 and above indicates obesity, whereas that of 25 to 29.9 indicates overweight. There is only a thin line between the two, and if you’re not cautious it can easily blur, bringing in its wake a host of health problems.1

Even ancient sciences like Ayurveda stress the need for an energy balance via proper nutrition and exercise. According to Ayurveda, obesity is the result of an imbalanced kapha dosha, one of the three physiological elements of the body, and if not reined in, the body will lash out – often with serious repercussions.2

Healthy Body Equals Healthy Heart

The risk of coronary heart disease goes up as the BMI rises. Our arteries supply blood rich in oxygen to the heart. Increased levels of fat in the body lead to the deposition of a wax-like substance (plaque) in the arteries, which reduces blood flow to the heart. The upshot – angina or heart attack. Blocked blood vessels also lead to clot formation. When this clot gets dislodged and travels to the brain, the result is a stroke.3

Cancer Calling

A systematic review by the World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research cites obesity as the common risk factor for a number of cancers, especially breast, colon, endometrial, gastric, liver, and pancreatic cancers.4

Metabolic And Diabetic Dangers

Syndrome X or metabolic syndrome is closely associated with extra fat around the waist. A group of biochemical and physiological abnormalities, this syndrome can raise your risks of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes due to poor insulin metabolism.5

Insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas, is responsible for moving blood sugar into the cells, where it is converted into energy. Obesity, particularly visceral, is one of the factors that cause a condition called “insulin resistance” wherein the body fails to respond to insulin, resulting in high blood sugar. The pancreas pump more insulin to move the glucose into the cells and ultimately gives in, losing its capacity to compensate for the increased insulin levels in the blood. The result? Increased blood sugar levels and diabetes.6

Knee And Joint Alert

Excess weight is like excess baggage, causing the joints and especially the knees a world of pain. Osteoarthritis, a condition where the cartilage underlying the knee degenerates, is closely associated with obesity. Even a slight reduction in weight improves the flexibility and mobility of joints to a great extent.7

Maternal Risks

Obesity in women increases the chances of miscarriage and pregnancy complications like preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. And the trouble doesn’t end there. The fetus is also at risk of stillbirth and congenital abnormalities. Maternal obesity also increases the possibility of the baby developing health complications later on in life.8

Mental Dilemmas

Obesity is strongly linked to poor mental health especially in women and adolescents, triggering depression, social stigmatization, distorted self-image, low self-esteem, and eating disorders. Obese individuals often face discrimination and harassment, and these negatively affect their view of the world. Feelings of guilt and worthlessness can translate into distress eating – and what follows is a vicious cycle.9

The Fat to Fit Fight

With the glaring statistics on adult as well as childhood obesity across the globe, the obesity epidemic needs to be fought head on. Regular exercise and healthy food choices can help achieve and maintain a normal BMI. So shed those extra pounds and add quality years to your life!

References   [ + ]

1.Gupta, R., Priyanka Rastogi, M. Sarna, V. P. Gupta, S. K. Sharma, and K. Kothari. “Bodymass index, waist-size, waist-hip ratio and cardiovascular risk factors in urban subjects.” Japi55 (2007): 621-627.
2.Hari Sharma and H.M. Chandola. “The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.” June 2011 June 2011, 17(6): 491-496. doi:10.1089/acm.2010.0396.
3.What are the health risks of overweight and obesity, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Maryland.
4. Vucenik, I. and Stains, J. P. (2012). “Obesity and cancer risk: evidence, mechanisms, and recommendations”. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1271: 37–43.
5.What is metabolic syndrome? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
6.Golay, A., and J. Ybarra. “Link between obesity and type 2 diabetes.” Best Practice & Research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 19, no. 4 (2005): 649-663.
7.Health risks of adult obesity, Public Health England.
8.Leddy, Meaghan A., Michael L. Power, and Jay Schulkin. “The impact of maternal obesity on maternal and fetal health.” Rev Obstet Gynecol 1, no. 4 (2008): 170-178.
9.Obesity and Mental Health, Public Health England.
CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.

CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.