Health Risks of Overweight and Obesity

August 15, 2023


Obesity is a risk factor for several of the world’s leading causes of death, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and various types of cancer. Now, it is on its way to overtaking smoking as the biggest cause of cancer.


According to the WHO, more than 1 billion people worldwide are obese and 4 million people die each year as a result of obesity-related diseases. The World Obesity Federation’s 2023 atlas predicts that 51% of the world, or more than 4 billion people will be living with overweight or obesity within 12 years. The need to increase awareness of the health risks of obesity and take action to control weight is increasingly important.



Common health consequences of overweight and obesity


  •  Diabetes


Type 2 diabetes is strongly related to body weight. Fat cells, especially those stored around the abdominal area, produce hormones and other substances that cause inflammation. Inappropriate inflammation can make the body less responsive to insulin and change the way the body metabolizes fats and carbohydrates, resulting in higher blood sugar levels and eventually diabetes.


  • Heart disease


Excess weight is linked to diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and metabolic syndrome which are risk factors for CAD. Excess weight itself is a risk factor for CAD. It can lead to fatty material building up in the arteries. If the arteries that carry blood to the heart get damaged and clogged, it can lead to a heart attack. If the damage and clog happen to the arteries that carry blood to the brain, then it causes a stroke or vascular dementia.


  • Cancer


Overweight and obesity are linked with as many as 13 types of cancer, including thyroid, breast, livers, gallbladder, upper stomach, pancreas, colon and rectum, meningioma, adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, multiple myeloma, kidneys, uterus, and ovaries.


  • Respiratory disease


Overweight and obesity can impair respiratory function via mechanical and metabolic pathways. The accumulation of abdominal fat may limit the descent of the diaphragm, and in turn, lung expansion. The accumulation of visceral fat can reduce the flexibility of the chest wall, sap respiratory muscle strength, and narrow airways in the lungs. Asthma and obstructive sleep apnea are 2 common respiratory diseases that have been linked to obesity.


  • Musculoskeletal disorders


Excess weight places mechanical and metabolic strains on bones, muscles, and joints, increasing risks of arthritis, tendonitis, and bursitis. It can also wear and damage cartilage, leading to pain stiffness, and swelling in the joint.


  • Psychological impacts


Overweight and obesity can lead to depression. Excess weight makes it easier to feel tired. People become less and less motivated to move around and exercise, which can lead to low mood.



Losing weight: What can you do


Obesity virtually harms every aspect of health and greatly impacts the quality of life. But it is not a permanent condition, there are many things that help lose weight.


  • Eat healthily and exercise regularly


Eating with fewer calories is often the first step to lose weight. Of course, combined with active physical activities would be more effective. It is not recommended for overweight people to do intensive exercise at once, which would make them shrink back from difficulties and lose motivation after a few sessions. Start with something easy and fun, such as brisk walking after dinner, walking the dog every day, taking a dance class, or swimming.


  • Weight-loss medicines


When a healthy lifestyle and good eating and physical activity habits are not enough, consult your doctor to prescribe some medicines. But it is still important to keep a healthy diet and exercise while taking pills.


  • Electrical Stimulation Therapy for Weight Loss


The electrical stimulation machine induces more intense and frequent muscle contractions using electrical impulses to help burn fat and build stronger muscles. Professional electrical stimulation treatment is offered at many spa and wellness centers or beauty salons and there are many EMS units for personal use. It is an effective way to recruit more muscle fibers to exercise.


The treatment is non-invasive, pain-free, and with minimal side effects. During the treatment, you will feel a slight tingling sensation. The sensation will be increased gradually till the set intensity, which feels strong but gets comfortable.


  • Bariatric surgery


Bariatric surgery makes changes to your digestive system to help lose weight. It should be the last resort when other means have not worked or when you have serious health problems related to weight as bariatric surgery can pose serious risks and long-term side effects.

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