The 10 Most Serious Health Risks of Obesity
Being overweight or obese affects more than just a person's outward appearance. In fact, excess weight and obesity can lead to many serious health risks, gradually destroying one’s quality of life. According to the National Institutes of Health, if obesity remains untreated, it can cause numerous serious, and even life-threatening, health problems:
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Osteoarthritis and Joint Disease
- Sleep Apnea
- Gallstones and Gallbladder Disease
- Impaired Fertility
Luckily, many weight-loss options are available, even for people who have tried earnestly but unsuccessfully to lose weight through diet, exercise, or prior weight-loss surgery. At the Houston UT MIST Center for Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery, our team of specialists can help you understand the causes and health risks of obesity, as well as the wide range of treatment options available to help you reach your target weight-loss goal and prevent obesity-related health risks.
If you're ready to get rid of excess weight for good, contact UT MIST Center for Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery in Houston. Request your consultation online or phone (713) 892-5500.
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Top 10 Obesity Health Risks for Houston Residents
The 10 most serious health risks of obesity are listed below:
1. Heart Disease
One of the most serious health risks of obesity is heart disease. In the United States, heart disease is a leading cause of death and disability for adult men and women. Excess weight is directly linked to heart disease: the higher the BMI, the higher the blood pressure, LDL "bad" cholesterol levels, and triglycerides (blood fats). All of these are key risk factors for coronary artery disease (a waxy plaque buildup in the arteries), angina (chest pain caused by decreased oxygen to the heart), heart attack, and congestive heart failure (inadequate heart function).
Here's the good news: Losing just 10% of your excess weight can reduce your chances of developing heart disease. If you are severely overweight and lose more than that, the benefits to your cardiovascular health increase considerably.
Being overweight or obese can cause plaque to accumulate in your arteries. If that plaque breaks free from an artery, it can create a blood clot, and if that clot is close to your brain, it can prevent blood and oxygen from reaching your brain, causing a stroke. The risk of having a stroke corresponds to BMI: high BMI = high risk, and low BMI = low risk. That's one more good reason for losing excess weight.
3. High Blood Pressure
When a person's heart beats, it creates a force to pump blood, pushing it against arterial walls. That force is called blood pressure. Low blood pressure helps the body function normally, but sustained high blood pressure can damage it in many ways. For one, it can lead to hardening of the arteries, which decreases the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. When the heart isn’t receiving enough blood or oxygen, the risk for chest pain (angina), heart failure, or heart attack increases. High blood pressure is also a risk factor for kidney disease, aneurysms, and bursting or bleeding of blood vessels in the eyes, which can lead to vision changes or blindness. Your chances of having high blood pressure increase if you're overweight or obese.
4. Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is among the most serious health risks of obesity. Type 2 diabetes, the most common form, means that a person's body does not use insulin properly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is doubled in overweight or obese people. Left untreated, it can lead to premature death, heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, kidney disease, stroke, and blindness. You can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by losing weight and increasing your physical activity.
One of the most serious health risks of obesity is cancer. Overweight women have increased risk of developing cancer of the uterus, gallbladder, cervix, ovary, breast, and colon. Overweight men are at higher risk for developing cancer of the colon, rectum, and prostate. One effective way to reduce the risks of these kinds of cancers is to lose weight through diet, exercise, a medical weight-loss program, or bariatric surgery.
6. Osteoarthritis and Degenerative Joint Disease
Obesity health risks often go unnoticed for years, but can eventually cause pain and restrict movement. Osteoarthritis, a common joint disorder, typically affects the knees, hips, and lower back. Extra weight appears to increase the risk of osteoarthritis by placing extra pressure on these joints and wearing away the protective cartilage (tissue that cushions the joints). In addition, obesity increases the rate at which joints deteriorate. Weight loss can decrease stress on the joints both to improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis and to prevent further damage.
7. Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a serious health risk associated with obesity. A person who has sleep apnea often snores heavily and stops breathing or takes very shallow breaths for short periods during sleep. Obesity increases the risk for sleep apnea, and excess fat stored around the neck can narrow the airway and make breathing difficult. Sleep apnea may cause daytime sleepiness and eventually lead to heart failure. Weight loss usually improves sleep apnea.
8. Gallstones and Gallbladder Disease
Gallstones and gallbladder disease are additional health risks of obesity. People who are overweight or obese are at increased risk of having gallstones, which are hard pieces of stone-like material formed in the gallbladder from cholesterol and other materials. They can cause stomach or back pain.
Also, being overweight may result in an enlarged gallbladder that doesn't function normally. An individual's risk of many diseases increases with weight, so losing weight now through diet, exercise, a medical weight-loss program, or bariatric surgery translates into a lower risk for gallstones and gallbladder disease.
Gout is one of the more painful health risks of obesity. Gout is a joint disease caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid sometimes forms into solid stone or crystal masses that become deposited in the joints. Gout is more common in overweight people, and the risk of developing the disorder increases with higher body weights. (Note: Over the short term, some diets may lead to an attack of gout in people who have high levels of uric acid or who have had gout before. If you have a history of gout, check with your doctor or other health professional before trying to lose weight.)
10. Impaired Fertility
In some women, obesity can cause menstrual irregularities and infertility.
Health is one of the greatest influences on a person's quality of life, so if you're ready to make important changes that will lead to better long-term health, contact the weight-loss specialists at UT MIST Center for Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery in Houston. Request your consultation online or phone (713) 892-5500.