How Obesity Affects Your Health
With one in three people suffering from the condition, obesity is far too common in the United States. In addition to causing embarrassment and low self-esteem, obesity can also lead to other long-term health problems that can affect your life dramatically.
Carrying extra weight causes a variety of problems within your respiratory system. For example, when too much fat accumulates on the stomach, lung expansion is reduced. Other respiratory problems that can occur as a result of obesity include obstructive sleep apnea and asthma.
When your body mass index becomes too high, your fertility may suffer. A woman’s fertility is optimized when BMI remains between 20 and 24 percent. BMIs higher or lower than these limits can cause problems with ovulation. It can also increase the risk of pregnancy complications, including gestational diabetes, miscarriage, and preeclampsia.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, people who suffer from obesity are more likely to become depressed than those who are not overweight. Studies have also shown that depression can increase the risk of weight gain, thus exacerbating the problem.
Research has shown a link between obesity and several types of cancers, including cancer of the gallbladder, kidney, endometrium, breast, rectum, colon, pancreas, ovary, and esophagus.
An elevated BMI leads to more inflammation, higher blood sugar levels, increased triglycerides, higher LDL cholesterol, and elevated blood pressure. These processes in turn increase the risk of serious cardiovascular problems, including stroke, coronary artery disease, and cardiovascular death.
The risk of developing type 2 diabetes rises dramatically as your body weight increases. In fact, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is 93 times lower for women with a BMI lower than 22 than it is for women with a BMI higher than 35. This is due in part to the various substances secreted by fat cells, many of which contribute to inflammation, which leads to insulin resistance and other metabolic problems.
Prevention and Treatment
The key to preventing the development of obesity-related problems is to avoid obesity itself. Prevent excess weight gain by eating a healthy, balanced diet and engaging in regular physical activity. If you are already overweight, reducing your caloric intake, beginning an exercise program and improving your nutrition can help you lose weight. When these measures are ineffective, it may be wise to consider medication or weight loss surgery.