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8 Reasons Why Obesity Needs To Be Tackled Now

Medically reviewed on Feb 20, 2017 by L. Anderson, PharmD.

Too Much Sugar in the Blood - Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes reduces your body's ability to control blood sugar. It is a major cause of early death, heart disease, kidney disease, stroke and blindness. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include age, family history, high cholesterol and obesity. However, the single best predictor of type 2 diabetes is being overweight or obese. In fact, almost 90% of people living with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese.

Diabetes cases among American adults have increased fourfold since the 1980's, and additional increases are expected, primarily due to the growing obesity epidemic.

Problems With the Ticker - Heart Disease and Stroke

Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death and disability for people in the U.S. Overweight people are twice as likely as normal weight people to have high blood pressure, abnormally high levels of blood fats, and LDL ("bad") cholesterol - all major risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

Being overweight also contributes to angina (chest pain caused by decreased oxygen to the heart) and sudden death from heart disease or stroke without any signs or symptoms. If you are overweight or obese it’s likely you are physically inactive. Physically inactive people are twice as likely to develop coronary heart disease compared with regularly active people.

The Big C

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. Being overweight or obese raises your risk for colon, breast, endometrial, and gallbladder cancers.

About one third of cancer deaths are linked to excess body weight, poor nutrition and a lack of physical activity.

By 2030, nearly a half million Americans will be diagnosed with obesity-related cancers each year.

Who Are You? Why Am I Sad? Dementia and Mental Health

New research suggests that obesity during midlife (40’s to 60’s) may increase the risk for later-life dementia.

Obese adults are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions than normal weight adults. Obesity also increases the risk of experiencing a mood disorder.

Research also suggests a form of an obesity-related gene may increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

Oh My Knees! Painful Joints and Mobility Issues

Osteoarthritis is a common joint problem of the knees, hips, and lower back. The condition occurs if the tissue that protects the joints wears away. Extra weight can put more pressure and wear on joints, especially knees, causing pain.

Statistics show that obese adults are up to four times more likely to develop osteoarthritis of the knee than healthy-weight adults. This is further complicated by the fact that adults with arthritis are significantly less likely to participate in leisure time physical activity compared to those without arthritis.

Struggling For a Breath?

Some obese patients suffer from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. It may be because obese patients have more fat stored around their neck making it harder to breathe.

Some obese patients suffer from another breathing problem called Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome (OHS). In OHS, poor breathing results in too much carbon dioxide (hypoventilation) and too little oxygen in the blood (hypoxemia). OHS can lead to serious health problems and may even cause death.

Kidney, Liver and Gallbladder Problems

Obese individuals are far more likely to develop kidney disease than normal-weight individuals. They are also at greater risk of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a liver disease which can lead to cirrhosis, in which the liver is permanently damaged and no longer able to work properly. NASH is one of the major causes of cirrhosis in the U.S., only behind hepatitis C and alcoholic liver disease.

People who are overweight or obese are also at increased risk of having gallstones. Gallstones are hard pieces of stone-like material that form in the gallbladder. They're mostly made of cholesterol. Gallstones can cause stomach or back pain. Being overweight may result in an enlarged gallbladder that doesn't work well.

Overweight Kids and Teens

According to the CDC, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. This has immediate and long-term effects on health. Studies suggest that overweight children are more likely to be involved in bullying – both as victims and as perpetrators of teasing, name-calling, and physical bullying – than normal weight children. Overweight children are much more likely to become overweight adults unless they adopt healthier patterns. Childhood obesity is also associated with increased risk of emotional problems and lower self-esteem. Depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder can also occur.

Fight the Battle of the Bulge

Obesity is usually caused by taking in more calories than you burn because the body stores unused calories as fat.

Following a healthy lifestyle can help you prevent being overweight or obese. Follow a healthy eating plan. Make healthy food choices, keep your calorie needs or your family's calorie needs in mind, keep active and focus on the balance of energy IN and energy OUT. Think about fresh vegetables, fruit, fiber, water and lean cuts of meat; keep the ice cream cone as a very occasional treat for healthy eating.

Top Tips For a Healthy Lifestyle

  • Focus on portion size. Watch the portion sizes in restaurants and avoid all fast food. The portions served often are enough for two or three people. Children's portion sizes should be smaller than those for adults. Cutting back on portion size will help you balance energy IN and energy OUT.
  • Be active. Make personal and family time active. Find activities that everyone will enjoy. For example, go for a brisk walk, bike or rollerblade, or train together for a walk or run.
  • Reduce screen time. Limit the use of TVs, computers, smart phones and tablets because they limit time for physical activity. Health experts recommend 2 hours or less a day of screen time that's not work or homework related.
  • Keep track of your weight, body mass index, and waist circumference. Also, keep track of your children's growth and weight. Make your healthy routines part of your every day routines.

Finished: 8 Reasons Why Obesity Needs To Be Tackled Now

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  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overweight and Obesity. Accessed 02/20/2017.
  • Department of Health and Human Services. NIH. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Clinical guidelines on the identification, evaluation, and treatment of overweight and obesity in adults. Accessed 02/20/2017.
  • Obesity. Harvard Health Guide. Accessed 02/20/2017.