Medical Conditions Related to Obesity

There are several medical conditions related to obesity, many of which are plaguing the world at alarming rates. Hundreds of medical conditions have been linked to obesity: diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, certain cancers, high cholesterol, and the list goes on and on.

In 2011, more than one-third of US adults were considered obese. Alarmingly, during the years 1980 to 2008, obesity rates doubled for adults and tripled for children.

Thankfully, in 2013, the rate of childhood obesity in the US dropped for the first time in three decades.

Most cases of obesity are caused by a combination of diets high in calories and fat and a sedentary lifestyle. It’s estimated that only 1 to 8 percent of obesity cases are related to genetics.

Convenient access to cheap unhealthy foods, increased portion sizes, and lack of physical activity contribute significantly to the world’s obesity rates, and things aren’t looking any more positive for future generations.

If you find yourself afraid to step on the scale, then it's time to lose some weight

What is Considered Obese?

Obesity is determined using the Body Mass Index (BMI). A person's BMI is calculated by dividing their weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared (multiplied by 2).

A person with a BMI over 30 is considered obese.

To help you with your BMI, this simple calculator does most of the work for you.

BMI Categories

Below 18.5

18.5 to 24.9

25.0 to 29.9

30.0 and above

Underweight

Normal

Overweight

Obese

Obesity and Diabetes

Over 60 percent of Type 2 Diabetes cases are linked back to obesity. Chronic obesity causes the body’s insulin to work less effectively, increasing the body’s blood sugar levels to dangerously high levels.

Prolonged high blood sugar levels can cause devastating health effects, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and poor circulation in the limbs, which can lead to poor wound healing, infection, and need for amputation.

Studies have shown that those who had high levels of physical activity, a healthy diet, did not smoke, and consumed alcohol in moderation had an 82 percent lower rate of diabetes than those that did not follow those lifestyle choices.

Obesity and High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, medically known as hypertension, is another medical condition related to obesity. Research has shown that over half of all high blood pressure cases are caused by obesity.

Excess fat and weight isn't just bad for almost every process in our bodies, it also causes the release of a number of hormones that directly raise the blood pressure.

Even losing just a few pounds can dramatically lower blood pressure scores – one study found that for each pound lost, blood pressure was reduced by one as well.

Obesity and High Cholesterol

Diets high in fat and sodium are one of the leading causes of medical conditions related to obesity. This kind of diet isn't just bad for a person's weight – it's terrible for our arteries!

“Western" diets, high in fat and sodium, but low in nutrition, and a sedentary lifestyle contribute immensely to high cholesterol levels. Over time, this cholesterol gets stuck in our blood vessels, hardens, and eventually closes the vessel, and blood can't get through.

If this vessel happens to be one that goes to the brain, a stroke can occur.

Many people blame obesity on genetics, but lifestyle is a much greater influence on body weight

Cancer as a Result of Obesity

Research has found that esophagus, pancreas, colon, rectum, breast, kidney, thyroid, endometrial and gall bladder cancers all can be caused by obesity.

While the statistics that link obesity to cancer vary for each type of cancer, endometrial cancer has the highest relationship to obesity, with 40 percent of cases having been caused by obesity.

Several reasons have been proposed as to why obesity can cause cancer:

  • Fat tissue produces excess amounts of hormones like estrogen, high levels of which have been associated with the risk of breast, endometrial, and other cancers.
  • Obese people often have increased levels of insulin (because it is less effective, so the obese body needs more) which may cause the development of certain tumors.
  • Obese people often have chronic low-level inflammation, which has been associated with increased cancer risk.
  • In addition, the obese person’s poor diet and lack of exercise can also contribute to their increased risk for cancers.

Obesity and Heart Disease

Because obesity can increase blood pressure, cholesterol, and risk for diabetes, all of these problems combined increase the risk of heart disease in an obese person.

Over time, high blood pressure and cholesterol take a toll on the body's veins and arteries, causing them to break down, become filled with plaque, and eventually, not able to carry blood to the organs and heart.

This can lead to many medical conditions related to obesity: a heart attack, congestive heart failure, and stroke. Research has shown that obesity increases the risk of developing heart disease by at least 50 percent, if not more.

Health Risks of Childhood Obesity

Never before have the rates of obesity in children been so high. Every day, parents and guardians allow their children to make unhealthy food choices that can one day contribute to obesity-related medical conditions.

Not only is an obese child at risk for all kinds of medical conditions related to obesity, the long-term psychological damage can be devastating to the child's self esteem, and their ability to become mentally stable adults. Depression, anxiety, and being victims of bullying are common in obese children.

Obese children are more likely to become obese adults as well, putting them at risk for all the medical conditions related to obesity we discussed previously.

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