The Risks of Being Overweight
The effects of being overweight surpass aesthetic concerns about weight gain. Obesity increases your risk for developing serious, chronic conditions. It can affect your physical health, your mental health, your social life and even your professional development.
Weight loss surgery can decrease your risk for developing health problems in association with your weight, and in some circumstances can even reverse the onset of obesity related conditions. The longer you struggle with obesity, the greater your risk for developing certain health conditions becomes.
Measuring Obesity Risks
Obesity is measured through the body mass index scale, or BMI. A body mass index greater than 25 indicates that a person is overweight. The higher the BMI, the more overweight a person is. A BMI higher than 30 means a person is obese.
If your BMI is greater than 35 and you are struggling with any obesity related health problems, then you may qualify for weight loss surgery.
What are the risks of obesity?
There are several factors that influence your risk for developing weight-related health concerns. Your age, gender, family history of disease and exercise habits will all impact your personal risk of developing particular medical conditions.
Living with obesity puts you at an increased risk for the following health conditions:
- Type-2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure (Hypertension)
- High cholesterol and triglycerides
- Sleep Apnea
- Certain cancers
You can reduce your risk for developing these conditions by losing weight. Even before reaching your ultimate weight loss goal, losing just five to 10 percent of your excess body weight can offer significant health benefits.
Following weight loss surgery, many people are able to discontinue medications under the guidance of their weight loss surgeon immediately after surgery, even before any substantial weight loss has taken place.
Here is a more in-depth view of some of the ways obesity can impact your health:
Obesity and Premature Death
An estimated 300,000 deaths per year may be directly attributable to obesity in the USA. The risk of death rises with increasing weight. Even a moderate amount of excess weight, like 10 to 20 pounds for a person of average height, increases the risk of death, particularly among adults aged 30 to 64 years. Individuals who are obese have more than a 50 percent increased risk of premature death from all causes compared to individuals with a healthy weight level. It is thought that 1 in 5 deaths in the US are related to weight.
Obesity and Heart Disease
The incidence of heart disease is higher among obese and overweight populations. This includes conditions like:
- Congestive heart failure
- Heart attack
- Sudden cardiac arrest
- Chest pain
- Abnormal heart rhythm
High blood pressure is twice as common in adults who are obese than in those who are at a healthy weight. Obesity is also associated with elevated triglycerides (blood fat) and decreased HDL cholesterol or “good” cholesterol levels.
Obesity and Diabetes
Less than 20 pounds of excess weight increases a person’s risk of developing type-2 diabetes, and losing weight can significantly reduce your chances of developing this disease. Over 80% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese.
Weight loss surgery can reverse the onset of type-2 diabetes. In a 2011 report, the American Diabetes Association claimed that there is an “unequivocal” decline of diabetes-related morbidity and mortality following weight loss surgery (Keidar 2011).
Obesity and Cancer
Obesity is associated with an increased risk for some types of cancer including endometrial (cancer of the lining of the uterus), colon, gall bladder, prostate, kidney, and postmenopausal breast cancer. Women gaining more than 20 pounds from age 18 to midlife double their risk of postmenopausal breast cancer compared to women whose weight remains stable.
In addition to the above conditions, obesity can increase your risk for severe anxiety and depression. Losing a small amount of weight in the months leading up to your weight loss operation can reduce your risk of complications and infections, and help you to have a shorter recovery period.
Keidar, A. (2011, May). Bariatric surgery for type-2 diabetes reversal: The risks.
Zelman, MPH, RD, LD, K. (2011, October 20). Lose weight, gain a ton of benefits.