Overweight and obesity are two words that are in news more and more frequently in the last decade. It has become an epidemic in the India.
When you eat more calories on daily basis than you burn through exercise and physical activities, the extra calories add up over time and lead to obesity.
Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. BMI is calculated taking a person’s weight and height into account.
At times, people gain weight due to medical conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and hypothyroidism.
Obesity is a serious issue that can have a negative effect on many systems in your body and increase your risk of several health problems.
1. Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the body is either not capable of producing sufficient insulin to regulate blood glucose levels or the insulin produced is unable to work effectively.
While obesity increases the risk of diabetes, this metabolic condition is the leading cause of early death, coronary heart disease, strokes, kidney disease and blindness.
To cut your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, try to lose weight, eat a balanced diet, get adequate sleep and exercise more.
2. High Blood Pressure
Every time the heart beats, it pumps blood through the arteries to the rest of your body. A blood pressure of 120/80 mm Hg is considered normal.
If the top figure is consistently 140 or higher and the bottom figure is 90 or higher, then you suffer from high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, and it has been found to increase with weight gain and age.
While obesity is associated with hypertension, one can also suffer from hypertension due to several other reasons, such as genetics, excessive drinking, high salt intake, lack of exercise, stress, and use of birth control pills.
Whatever the reason is behind high blood pressure, try to lose weight, follow the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, avoid high dietary sodium, drink in moderation and make exercise a part of your daily routine.
3. High Cholesterol
People who are overweight or obese are more likely to have high cholesterol, a condition in which the levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol) and triglycerides are too high and the level of high-density lipoproteins (HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol) is too low.
Abnormal levels of these blood fats are a risk factor for coronary heart disease.
Apart from obesity, smoking, excessive drinking, increased age, genetics, diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney or liver disease also play a major role in high cholesterol.
To fight obesity and high cholesterol, try to lose weight. A 2007 study published in Obesity (Silver Spring) reports that sustained weight loss is an effective method to reverse the decrease in LDL levels in obese people.
More specifically, weight loss achieved through exercise is highly effective at raising HDL levels compared to dieting.
4. Heart Disease and Stroke
With an increase in BMI, there is also an increased risk for heart disease. Obesity leads to the buildup of plaque (a waxy substance) inside the coronary arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart. Plaque obstructs blood flow to the heart.
Moreover, obesity may cause or contribute to alterations in cardiac structure and function. The risk of sudden cardiac death as well as a stroke is also increased with obesity.
Cancer occurs when cells in body start growing abnormally or out of control. According to the CDC, cancer is the second leading cause of death.
While there are several risk factors for developing cancer, being overweight is one of them. Obesity increases the risk of developing certain cancers, such as breast, colon, rectum, uterus, gallbladder and kidney cancer.
In fact, death due to cancer in obese people is also high.
6. Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder in which there are brief pauses in breathing or shallow breaths during sleep. It causes restless sleep throughout the night and leads to sleepiness during the day. It also causes heavy snoring.
Obesity is one of the leading risk factors for sleep apnea. An overweight person may have more fat stored around his or her neck, making the airway smaller and breathing difficult.
7. Fatty Liver Disease
Fatty liver disease (both alcoholic as well as nonalcoholic) is common in obese people. In this condition, fat builds up in the liver and causes inflammation or scarring.
It can ultimately lead to severe liver damage, cirrhosis (scar tissue) or even liver failure.
People suffering from fatty liver disease are advised to lose weight, eat a healthy diet, increase physical activity and avoid drinking alcohol.
8. Gallbladder Disease
Gallbladder disease and gallstones are more common in overweight people. Excess cholesterol is one prominent reason behind gallstones, pebble-like materials that develop within the gallbladder.
9. Reproductive Problems
Obesity can cause menstrual issues and infertility in women, and erectile dysfunction, low sperm count and other sexual health issues in men.
As compared with men of normal weight, obese men are more likely to have a low sperm count or not have any viable sperms.
Pregnant women who are obese are at an increased risk for developing gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and the need for a C-section during delivery.
Plus, babies born to overweight or obese mothers are at an increased risk of being born too soon, being stillborn and having neural tube defects.
Obesity is one of the contributing factors of osteoarthritis, a common joint problem of the knees, hips and lower back.
Extra body weight puts more pressure on the joints and even wears away the cartilage, the tissue that normally protects the joints.
If you are obese and suffering from osteoarthritis, losing weight may help improve your symptoms. Weight loss will decrease stress on the knees, hips and lower back as well as lessen inflammation in your body. Exercise daily to lose weight, reduce pain and increase the flexibility of your joints.