What are the Effects of Obesity on Health?

Kelly Ferguson
Kelly Ferguson
Cardiovascular disease is a risk factor associated with obesity.
Cardiovascular disease is a risk factor associated with obesity.

High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease that may eventually lead to heart attack or stroke are probably the most well-known effects of obesity on health. There are, however, numerous other health problems that obesity can cause, including breathing issues, cancer, and liver disease. It is important for obese individuals to understand the negative effects of obesity on health in order to learn how to prepare and prevent future health problems.

Obesity may increase risk of high blood pressure.
Obesity may increase risk of high blood pressure.

Obesity causes atherosclerosis, a type of hardening of the blood vessels known as arteriosclerosis, when fats such as cholesterol build up in the blood vessels and impair the movement of the blood through the vessels. Atherosclerosis, especially when combined with hypertension, another result of obesity, can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Diabetes, specifically type II diabetes, can be yet another negative effect of obesity on health. With type II diabetes, the body becomes less able to effectively use the insulin the body produces, in a phenomenon known as insulin resistance. Diabetes, even without the other problems caused by obesity, can have devastating effects on health, such as kidney and heart damage, vision problems, and neuropathy, to name only a few.

Obese individuals are at an increased risk for developing sleep apnea.
Obese individuals are at an increased risk for developing sleep apnea.

An increased risk of certain types of cancer is another effect of obesity on health. Obesity is highly correlated with breast cancer in postmenopausal women, endometrial cancer, and kidney cancer, though recent research has also linked obesity to an increased risk of gallbladder, thyroid, and colorectal cancers. One possible benefit of obesity on health is a possible decreased risk of lung cancer and breast cancer in premenopausal women.

Sometimes, obesity also results in breathing problems such as asthma and sleep apnea, both of which can have dangerous consequences if left untreated. Gout, or a buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints and other tissues, and fatty liver disease are also possible effects. Osteoarthritis can also result from the wear and tear on the joints from carrying so much extra weight on the body.

Aside from the physical problems that obesity causes, it also tends to lead to psychological issues such as low self-esteem and depression. This is likely due to the social pressure to be thin and the negative attitudes of many people toward the obese. Sometimes, obese individuals develop eating disorders as a result of the stress, which in turn cause even more health problems.

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    • Cardiovascular disease is a risk factor associated with obesity.
      Cardiovascular disease is a risk factor associated with obesity.
    • Obesity may increase risk of high blood pressure.
      Obesity may increase risk of high blood pressure.
    • Obese individuals are at an increased risk for developing sleep apnea.
      Obese individuals are at an increased risk for developing sleep apnea.