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Understanding the health consequences of obesity

24 Jun 2024

Obesity is a topic that goes deeper than just skin deep. Obesity is not just about having overly tight fighting jeans, it’s about what happens in your body when you give it space for more fat. For fat that was never supposed to be there in the first place. It can take you on a ride from hormonal crazies to inflammation accidents and more. Today, we will be discussing all the obesity risks. 

Grab your seat!

What is Obesity?

Obesity is when someone has an excessive and unevenly distributed amount of fat in their body. Because this excess fat puts strain on your body organs, it can lead to serious health issues. Not just that, obesity brings complex changes in your hormones and metabolism and increases body inflammation.

A person with obesity may have a 30 or higher BMI. 

It doesn’t always mean that being obese will bring all the below-mentioned health problems to you but it certainly does increase the chances of developing them. You’re more at risk when obese. Let’s discuss the obesity risks now.

Heart disease

Heart diseases and obesity have a strong correlation and are more common in obese people. The arteries that supply blood to your heart may accumulate with fatty deposits over course of time. Obese people have a blood pressure that is higher than usual, LDL, triglycerides, and blood sugar. All these can increase your risk of heart disease. If your arteries get narrower, it can lead to a heart attack.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a health condition where breathing may stop during sleep. Overweight and obese people are more at risk of developing sleep apnea. This is because obese people may have excessive fat around their neck which makes their airways smaller and makes it difficult to breathe at night. 

Trying weight loss methods is a great way to tackle this because it can help reduce fat around the neck and make breathing easy, avoiding obesity risks like sleep apnea.

Type 2 diabetes

When your blood glucose is higher than the normal range, it can lead to type 2 diabetes. Other issues that add to it are nerve damage, kidney complications, vision issues, stroke and heart disease. 

If you’re obese, trying to get rid of even 5% of your weight with the help of regular workouts can help in the prevention of type 2 diabetes or delaying it. 

Stroke

A stroke is something that occurs when the blood supply to your heart is either very low or not happening at all. Strokes can damage the tissues of your brain and trigger problems like weak muscles, speech and language impairment and problems in thinking and reasoning skills.

High blood pressure

When there’s more fat in the body, there’s a requirement of more oxygen and nutrients too. Eventually, there will be a need to supply more blood to your fat tissues. This leads to your heart having to work harder to supply blood all across your body. The increase in circulation pressurises your artery walls leading to high blood pressure and hypertension. When this keeps happening for a longer duration, it can bring damage to your body, especially your heart and arteries.

Gallbladder disease

Your gallbladder stores bile which is passed on to your small intestine for better digestion. It also helps you digest fats. An obese person is more at risk of developing stones in their gallbladder. Gallstones are the hardened bile inside your gallbladder. 

 cholesterol in bile or having poorly functioning large gallbladders are two reasons that can cause gallstones in obese people. Gallstones tend to be very hurtful and can only be surgically removed.

Something that can help avoid gallstones is a high-fibre diet and avoiding refined grains.

Liver problems

Obese people are more at risk of developing NASH – Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis. If excess fatgets accumulates in your liver, it can harm the liver or make the scar tissue grow (Cirrhosis).

Usually, there are no visible symptoms of fatty liver disease but it is very dangerous and can lead to liver failure. Some ways to manage or reverse it could be weight loss, exercise and avoiding alcohol consumption. 

Fatty liver disease usually has no symptoms, but it can eventually lead to liver failure. The only way to reverse or manage the disease is to lose weight, exercise, and avoid drinking alcohol.

Cancer 

The correlation between obesity and cancer isn’t clear as it is with stroke and heart disease for obese people. However, being obese can increase the chances of developing cancers of the kidney, pancreas, breast, uterus, cervix, ovaries and prostate cancer.

Pregnancy issues

Overweight pregnant women can develop issues with insulin resistance, high blood glucose or high blood pressure. This leads to problems during pregnancy and delivery such as gestational diabetes, premature birth, stillbirth, miscarriage, having to do a cesarean delivery, blood clots, brain and spinal cord defects etc.

As an obese or overweight woman, if you’re planning to give birth, it’s best to begin with a weight management plan avoid any possible risks to you or your baby. Consult a healthcare professional and discuss how you can have a safe childbirth journey.

Depression

A lot of obese people struggle with depression because of the emotional toll the condition has on them. These factors are both internal and external. Studies say that there’s a definite association between depression and obesity making it one of the significant health risks of obesity.

Obese people may experience bullying or body shaming. Such experiences can affect your headspace and create a lack of self-worth. However, help is now available in better forms than before. If you ever feel the need for one, reach out without hesitation. You can also ask your doctor to recommend a mental health counsellor.

Don’t forget, your health is your greatest asset. Anything you do in life, you’re able to do because your health is good. It’s best not to take it lightly. Each step you take to better your health is a victory in itself. It could be swapping a sugary snack for something healthy, getting an active hobby for fun exercising and so on. Keep making the right decisions, avoid obesity risks and start treating your health like your baby.

About the Author

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Devina Aswal
MBBS, DDM, FCR, CIC

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