How Excess Weight Affects Your Health? 

How Excess Weight Affects Your Health

Do you know why doctors place more emphasis on maintaining a healthy body weight? It’s because they know how excess weight affects your health and quality of life. Aside from significantly affecting how you look, are you aware that your weight also impacts your overall health and wellness? Do you know that your weight can make or break your ability to stay productive during the day and remain healthy as you age? If you don’t know all of this information yet, let this article help.

In a 2015 – 2016 report from CDC, the percentage of people in the U.S., adults (those aged 20 and above) with obesity and overweight were 39.8% and 71.6%, respectively. The number of children particularly the obese and overweight ones, were also on the high side.

The issue with being overweight or obese is not losing shape or inability to fit into your best dress, far from that. The main problem is that it can increase your chances of developing life-threatening medical conditions. The health challenges may severely affect your heart, brain, bones, joints, liver, blood vessels, and other vital organs.

And in some cases, health conditions triggered by excessive weight do not come with visible symptoms, which means that you might think that you are well and healthy where in fact, your body is already deteriorating as the days go by. Diagnosing any health conditions late will make it hard for you to find treatment, and if you do find one, its efficacy is not guaranteed because treating health problems when it’s already in the worse state can be tough.

So, do you care to know how excess weight can affect your health and general wellbeing? If yes, then keep reading to figure out.

1. Excess Weight Increases Your Risk Of Developing Type 2 Diabetes

The first thing you need to know about excess weight is that it can boost your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. And as you already know, type 2 diabetes is a chronic and lifelong disease that can reduce your quality of life. It makes it impossible for the body to utilize insulin the right way.

Since diabetes is a chronic illness, you can’t be totally cured of it once diagnosed. You can only pay for medicine to help you manage its symptoms.

Below is a chart showing fasting blood sugar levels. If you have your blood sugar tests done, you can match your reading with that of the table above. 

Blood sugar levels What the reading implies
Under 100mg/dL Normal blood sugar levels
100 – 125mg/dL Indicates pre-diabetes
126mg/dL and above Diabetes

Now, the question is, how does excess weight contribute to increased risk of type 2 diabetes? Well, excess weight increases one’s chances of having inflammation and boost fatty acid levels in the body. And these can cause insulin resistance, which eventually gives rise to the type 2 diabetes.

The Type 2 diabetes, which is also referred to as the non-insulin dependent form of diabetes stands as the most prevalent form of the disease. In other words, over 90% of the diabetes cases, the world over, are traced to type 2 diabetes.

How does the type 2 diabetes affect one’s quality of life? We have been able to establish the fact that excess weight can cause the type 2 diabetes, a condition that can make the life of any individual miserable.

How it happens is that a person with type 2 diabetes automatically has high sugar levels. And patients who have high levels of sugar in their blood will experience increased thirst, hunger, and frequent urination. Dehydration, as a result of the frequent urination, can also lead to fatigue.

But that is not all. When diabetes is not adequately treated or controlled, it can lead to other serious health problems.

Examples include;

  • Stroke
  • Vision problems
  • Infections
  • ketoacidosis,
  • nerve damage
  • High blood pressure

Another health issue is the mental health of the individual. Put simply, type 2 diabetes, if not treated properly, can cause a patient to develop mental health issues.

2. Increases Your Risk Of Having Cancer

Is there a link between excess weight, obesity, and cancer? Yes, there is. So, if you are ever in doubt, this might help to make the confusion go away and encourage you to maintain a healthy weight.

Cancer is considered a silent killer because anyone in the world can suffer from it, and this illness doesn’t usually come with symptoms. More often than not, you will only choose to seek medical help if cancer has spread in different parts of the body, and the illness is already in its worst state. Aside from being hard to diagnose, cancer is also very expensive to treat. You’ll have to pay for chemotherapy sessions at least once a week, and positive results are still not guaranteed even after completing your sessions.

According to the American Cancer Society, at least 8 percent of the cancer cases recorded in the country relate to being overweight. Excess weight is also responsible for 7 percent of cancer deaths in the country.

However, the report is the same in other parts of the world, not only the United States of America. So, the point is, excess weight or obesity can increase your risk of developing cancer.

Will every individual with excess weight develop cancer? The answer is no! Your chances of developing cancer would only increase when you become overweight.

Furthermore, let’s look at the types of cancer an individual who is obese or overweight may likely develop;

  • Esophagus
  • Kidney
  • Liver
  • Ovary
  • Cervix
  • Pancreas
  • Endometrium
  • Gallbladder
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Rectum and colon
  • Prostate cancer (a more aggressive form)
  • Breast cancer in females past the age of menopause

So, these are the type of cancers individuals with excess weight or obesity are at risk of developing.

How does excess body weight lead to an increased risk of cancer? There are several mechanisms through which excess weight or obesity can increase your risk of developing cancer. These mechanisms are also directly linked to the type of cancer one may likely develop.

For the records, if you have excess body fat, the following bodily function might be affected;

  • The levels of some hormones in your body will be affected. These include hormones like estrogen and insulin.
  • Another area that might be affected is your immune function.
  • Thirdly, there are proteins responsible for influencing how one’s body utilizes specific hormones. These proteins will also be affected.
  • Last but not least are factors responsible for regulating cell growth—examples include the IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor-1).

The above explanation on how excess body fat can affect several bodily functions and cause cancer is not in any particular order. Any of these bodily functions can be affected first, thereby leading to the emergence of cancerous cells in the body. Research also reveals that the more weight you gain, the higher your chances of developing cancer increase.

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death globally. It is the second largest the world over. In 2018, people totaling over 9.6 million, died of cancer the world over.

However, besides excess weight, other factors can increase your risk of developing cancer. These include physical carcinogens (ultraviolet radiation), a biological carcinogen (infection caused by viruses, parasites or bacteria), and chemical carcinogens (asbestos, aflatoxin, a component in tobacco, and arsenic).

3. Increased Risk Of High Blood Pressure

If you think that alcohol and salt are the only two significant factors that can cause high blood pressure, think again! You have a higher chance of developing high blood pressure if you have excess weight.

How does an individual’s risk of developing high blood pressure increase with excess body weight? It is surprising to figure out that excess weight can increase one’s risk of developing this silent killer called high blood pressure (hypertension).

Anyway, here’s the report from the famous Framingham Heart Study. The study took place for 44 years and gave useful insight that excess body weight can lead to high blood pressure. The study showed that obesity and overweight (excess body weight), was responsible for over 26% of hypertension cases in men and approximately 28% in women.

The Framingham Heart Study also gave another shocking revelation about the damages excess weight can do to one’s health, though the focus was on the heart. The report indicated that at least 28% of the coronary heath disease cases reported in men and 15% reported in women were tied to excess weight.

So, in conclusion, the report from the study indicated that excess body weight could increase your risk of developing hypertension.

How this happens is that obese or overweight individuals have increased fatty tissues in their bodies, which not only increases vascular resistance but causes the heart to work even harder to pump and supply blood throughout one’s body.

The work the heart does to keep us active is blood circulation. It also provides oxygen to areas of the body where it is required. But then, the harder it works, the higher the amount of force it would need to pump blood.

So, when you are overweight, you are likely putting some additional pressure on your dear heart and increasing the force it would need to pump and circulate blood throughout your body. For this reason, obese or overweight individuals are prone to developing high blood pressure quickly.

Below is a chart showing the primary classification used for blood pressure. 

 

Systolic

 

Diastolic

 

Normal blood pressure

Top number equals or is lower than 120mmHg Lower number equals or is lower than 80mmHg
Pre-hypertension 120mmHg to139mmHg 80mmg to 89mmHg
Hypertension

Stage – 1

140mmHg to 159mmHg 90mmHg to 99mmHg
Hypertension

Stage – 2

Higher than or equals 160mmHg Greater than or equals 100mmHg

This chart above is to help people understand the different blood pressure readings.

Hypertension is a silent killer. The reason for this weird name is that it doesn’t give any visible signs like other health problems before striking. The only way you can find out is via check-up. Don’t assume you are in good shape health-wise unless your result from the check-up says so.

Millions of Americans unknowingly have high blood pressure. But it is not just only Americans, but other parts of the world. Most people feel they are immune to this condition or don’t have it in their family history, so they feel relaxed about it.

Now here is the thing; whether you have it in your lineage or not, take proactive measures to maintain a healthy weight. You should also go for check-ups to know your health status.

If you are obese or overweight, there’s a high tendency that your doctor might have spoken to you about reducing or controlling your weight. That’s because the excess weight or obesity increases your risk of developing high blood pressure, a condition that can reduce your quality of life.

Other factors that can increase your chances of developing high blood pressure besides obesity or overweight;

  • Alcohol use
  • Drug use
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Chronic stress
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Family history of the condition
  • Age – individuals who are above 50 years of age.

How can you lose weight when you already have high blood pressure? We have already established the point that excess weight can lead to hypertension. Now, let’s assume you are already overweight. You then went for the BP test and discovered that you have high blood pressure. What should be your action?

Well, the best thing to do will be to speak to your doctor. However, there are also cool ways you can turn such a situation around. Experts recommend regular exercise and adhering to a healthy meal plan. The thing is if you exercise properly and lose weight, then there is a high chance that your blood pressure would reduce.

You should also be ready to put an end to some of your unhealthy lifestyles. Avoid regular consumption of processed, high sodium, and high sugar foods as much as possible. If you can, stop eating such foods.

You can replace those unhealthy dietary choices with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and even animal protein.

Also, keep in mind that exercise is good for the heart. It helps to strengthen it, thus making it easier for it to perform its usual task of circulating blood throughout the body with lesser force.

4. Increased Rate Of Osteoarthritis

Can being overweight or obese increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis? Yes, it can. And for the records, the condition might not even happen to the weight-bearing joint. So, don’t think that way.

Now, moving forward, it is essential to know that there is a difference between obesity and overweight, which is tied to the BMI (body mass index) of the individual. Someone with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight, while someone with a BMI of 30 or higher is considered to be obese.

Nevertheless, both conditions can lead to osteoarthritis. Numerous studies have shown that they can. Studies conducted also indicate that the potential for obese women developing knee osteoarthritis is considered to be four times higher and five times higher in males that are obese, compared to their counterparts (females and males), with healthy body weight.

Osteoarthritis can affect your life in a lot of ways. When diagnosed with this disease, your range of motion will become more limited because any sudden movement will cause pain and discomfort. This can become the reason why you will have to miss out on some of your favorite games, reunions, and other social activities.

Conclusion

There are different ways excess weight can affect your heart, and none of them is good. Some of the health conditions that being overweight or obese creates are life-threatening. So do not wait for your healthcare provider to tell you that excess weight is bad for you. Do the right thing by maintaining a healthy weight. You can start by changing your lifestyle or unhealthy eating habit. Exercise regularly and take other precautionary measures provided by your healthcare provider to control your weight. If you can control your weight, you can manage your health to a large extent.