When your body has too much fat, the result is obesity. It’s a chronic disease that poses a significant threat to human health, and more and more Americans are feeling the effects of it. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General describes obesity as being at epidemic proportions.
- 35 percent of women and 31 percent of men are considered seriously overweight
- 15 percent of children between the ages of six and 19 are overweight
- Obesity accounts for an estimated 300,000 premature deaths in the U.S.
Because tobacco use is declining, health officials now warn obesity as a result of physical inactivity and poor diet may soon overtake tobacco as the number one preventable killer of Americans under the age of 70. The reason being: people with severe obesity are more likely to have other diseases, or comorbidities, as a consequence of being overweight.
Let’s look at some of the damage obesity can do to the body, and how this can lead to a lower quality of health.
Obesity is a major cause of type 2 diabetes. The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) estimates people with obesity or severe obesity are 10 times more likely to have type 2 diabetes, a condition characterized by resistance to insulin (the hormone that regulates blood sugar) that can nearly double the risk of death. Type 2 diabetes can lead to amputations, blindness, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, impotence, and other negative side effects.
High Blood Pressure
About 3 out of 4 high blood pressure (HBP), or hypertension, cases are related to obesity. The presence of added fat tissue in the body means blood vessels and the heart have to work harder to circulate oxygen and nutrients the fat tissue needs to thrive. More circulating blood also means more pressure on the artery walls. Higher pressure on artery walls increases blood pressure.
In addition, extra weight can raise the heart rate and reduce the body’s ability to transport blood through the vessels of the body. HBP increases the risk of other diseases, including coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, stroke, and kidney disease.
The American Heart Association considers obesity a major risk factor for heart disease. Meaning people with severe obesity have a higher risk of suffering a heart attack. Obesity also increases the risk of heart failure and an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), a potential precursor to cardiac arrest.
Because people with obesity have reduced lung capacity, they are at higher risk for respiratory infections. They are also more likely to experience asthma and/or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a serious breathing disorder.
OSA occurs when excess fat in the neck, throat, and tongue block air passageways during sleep. This blockage causes a person to stop breathing for a time. Because apnea episodes interrupt the normal sleep cycle, you may not reach restful sleep. This can lead to fatigue and drowsiness, or worse, high blood pressure and heart failure.
High blood pressure/hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and congestive heart failure are major contributors to kidney disease and kidney failure. All of these conditions are caused or made worse by obesity.
Obesity is the leading cause of fatty liver and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Most people with severe obesity have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Fatty liver disease can cause scarring of the liver, resulting in worsened liver function, which can further lead to cirrhosis and liver failure.
Unfortunately, the impacts of an increasing body mass index don’t stop at this list. Other effects of obesity on health and the body include many types of cancer, bone and joint damage, and gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.
Taken together, it’s clear that obesity is a health crisis that touches many individuals in some way. But there is good news amidst the negative. Obesity is preventable. The skilled staff at Lee Bariatrics, a Texas Health Physicians Group practice, is committed to helping reverse the obesity trend through education, guidance, and support.
Give us a call today to learn more at 1-888-715-4330.
The above is for general information purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for the medical guidance from and discussion with your physician.