Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health. If a person’s bodyweight is at least 20% higher than it should be, he or she is considered obese. If your Body Mass Index, BMI, is between 25 and 29.9 you are considered overweight.
Overweight and obesity may increase the risk of many health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.
Excess weight may increase the risk for many health problems including:
Type 2 Diabetes: Type 2 diabetes is a disease in which blood sugar levels are above normal. More than 87% of adults with diabetes are overweight or obese. It isn’t clear why people who are overweight are more likely to develop this disease. It may be that being overweight causes cells to change, making them resistant to the hormone insulin. Insulin carries sugar from blood to the cells, where it is used for energy. When a person is insulin resistant, blood sugar cannot be taken up by the cells, resulting in high blood sugar. In addition, the cells that produce insulin must work extra hard to try to keep blood sugar normal. This may cause these cells to gradually fail. High blood sugar is a major cause of heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, amputation, and blindness.
High Blood Pressure: Having a large body size may increase blood pressure because your heart needs to pump harder to supply blood to all your cells. Excess fat may also damage your kidneys, which help regulate blood pressure. Every time your heart beats, it pumps blood through your arteries to the rest of your body.
Blood pressure is how hard your blood pushes against the walls of your arteries. High blood pressure (hypertension) usually has no symptoms, but it may cause serious problems, such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.
Heart Disease: Heart disease is a term used to describe several problems that may affect your heart. People who are overweight or obese often have health problems that may increase the risk for heart disease. These health problems include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar. In addition, excess weight may cause changes to your heart that make it work harder to send blood to all the cells in your body.
Losing 5 to 10 percent of your weight may lower your chances of developing heart disease. If you weigh 200 pounds, this means losing as little as 10 pounds. Weight loss may improve blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood flow.
Stroke: A stroke happens when the flow of blood to a part of your brain stops, causing brain cells to die. Overweight are known to increase blood pressure. High blood pressure is the leading cause of strokes. Excess weight also increases your chances of developing other problems linked to strokes, including high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and heart disease.The most common type of stroke, called ischemic stroke, occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery that carries blood to the brain. Another type of stroke, called hemorrhagic stroke, happens when a blood vessel in the brain bursts.
Cancer: Cancer occurs when cells in one part of the body, such as the colon, grow abnormally or out of control. Gaining weight as an adult increases the risk for several cancers, even if the weight gain doesn’t result in overweight or obesity. It isn’t known exactly how being overweight increases cancer risk. Fat cells may release hormones that affect cell growth, leading to cancer. Also, eating or physical activity habits that may lead to being overweight may also contribute to cancer risk.
Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person has one or more pauses in breathing during sleep. Obesity is the most important risk factor for sleep apnea. A person who is overweight may have more fat stored around his or her neck. This may make the airway smaller. A smaller airway can make breathing difficult or loud (because of snoring), or breathing may stop altogether for short periods of time. In addition, fat stored in the neck and throughout the body may produce substances that cause inflammation. Inflammation in the neck is a risk factor for sleep apnea. A person who has sleep apnea may suffer from daytime sleepiness, difficulty focusing, and even heart failure.
Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis is a common health problem that causes pain and stiffness in your joints. Being overweight is one of the risk factors for osteoarthritis, along with joint injury, older age, and genetic factors. Extra weight may place extra pressure on joints and cartilage (the hard but slippery tissue that covers the ends of your bones at a joint), causing them to wear away. In addition, people with more body fat may have higher blood levels of substances that cause inflammation. Inflamed joints may raise the risk for osteoarthritis.