Obesity Related Health Risks
Are you worried that morbid obesity may be jeopardizing your health? Morbid obesity can negatively affect nearly every system of the body, raising your risk of developing numerous debilitating and often fatal health conditions, diseases, and cancers. For those who are morbidly obese, undergoing bariatric surgery to reduce body weight can drastically improve their health.
- Mental Health
- Musculoskeletal System
- Respiratory System
- Digestive System
- Urinary System
- Cardiovascular System
- Nervous System
- Endocrine System
- Reproductive System
- Cancer Risks
Depression — The extra emotional stress of being morbidly overweight can cause or intensify feelings of depression. Social discomfort, rude comments, disapproval from others, and low self-esteem can have a tremendous negative impact on an individual’s mental health and lifestyle.
Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis — Extra weight can be difficult for the body to carry, causing undue strain on the muscles and bones, which, in turn, can result in wear on the hips, knees, and back. Injury to joints, bones, and the disks of the back can cause debilitating pain and constant inflammation, drastically limiting mobility.
Sleep Apnea — Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when soft tissue in the back of the throat blocks the air passage during sleep. The restriction of air causes the individual to awaken gasping for air, compromising quality and length of sleep. Morbidly obese individuals are at greater risk for this sleep disorder due to their tendency to develop excess fatty deposits in the soft tissue of the mouth and throat.
Asthma — Inactivity and excessive weight have been proven to increase occurrences of asthma. A sedentary lifestyle can cause obese individuals to breathe more shallowly, narrowing airways and consequently increasing bronchial reactivity and airway irritation — the two hallmarks of chronic asthma.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD, Heartburn, Hiatal Hernia) — Obese individuals are at almost three times the risk of developing gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) compared to individuals at ideal body weight, according to statistics from the VA Medical Center in Houston. GERD is a disease in which the acidic contents of the stomach flow back into the esophagus, causing irritation and heartburn at least twice a week, possibly leading to the erosion of tissue. Aside from being uncomfortable, damage to the esophagus has recently been proven to increase the risk of developing esophageal cancer.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) — Obesity has been linked to increased risk of urinary tract infections. This could be related to the fact that many obese individuals are also diabetics who have been clinically proven to experience recurrent UTIs.
Urinary Stress Incontinence — The weight of a morbidly obese individual’s abdomen can cause the pelvic muscles to stretch and relax, weakening muscle control that manages the retention and release of urine from the bladder. This can cause urine leakage when physical stress is placed on the bladder during such common activities as laughing, coughing, and sneezing.
Renal (Kidney) Disease — Diabetes and hypertension, two side effects of obesity, contribute to the development of renal disease (kidney disease), which can potentially lead to kidney failure (end-stage renal disease). Clinical studies show that 70 percent of end-stage renal disease cases result from a combined occurrence of hypertension and diabetes.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) — CVI is caused by poor circulation of blood from the leg veins, resulting in painful swelling of the legs. Because morbidly obese individuals often have sedentary lifestyles, their circulatory systems are not as strong as they should be, making them more susceptible to CVI. Also, the strain of extra body weight causes extreme pressure in the legs that can restrict the proper circulation of blood.
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) — The extra weight of a morbidly obese individual causes the heart to have to work harder than it should, which can elevate blood pressure to dangerous levels. Also called hypertension, high blood pressure can lead to strokes, heart attack, and congestive heart failure.
High Cholesterol and Arteriosclerosis — Morbidly obese individuals have an increased risk of developing arteriosclerosis, or clogging of the arteries, due to diets high in fat, which elevates lipid and cholesterol levels in the blood (hyperlipidemia). High concentration of cholesterol and other lipids in the blood causes these molecules to more readily attach to the walls of blood passageways, congesting the circulatory system, raising blood pressure, and overworking the heart.
Pseudotumor Cerebri (PTC) — Obesity greatly increases an individual’s risk of developing PTC. According to clinical studies, excess weight carried around the center of the body raises intra-abdominal pressure, resulting in an increase in fluid pressure around the heart and lungs and, eventually, the venous pressure in the brain. This stresses the cranial nerves and peripheral areas of the brain, leading to the development of PTC. Symptoms include vision impairment, headache, tinnitus (a constant rushing sound in the ears), dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and pain in the eyes.
Infection — It can be difficult for morbidly obese individuals to maintain proper hygiene due to the presence of skin folds on the body. Folds create an accommodating environment in which superficial bacteria and skin fungus can flourish, increasing potential formation of skin abscesses, cellulitis, and fungal infections.
Type 2 Diabetes — Morbidly obese individuals often become resistant to insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar, allowing insulin levels to rise dangerously (hyperinsulinemia) in the body. This condition, type 2 diabetes, can affect vision, the kidneys, teeth and gums, nerves, sexual function, reproductive function, circulation, and the heart, and may even result in
Irregular Menstruation — Morbid obesity can cause fluctuations in hormone balance, which can result in irregular, skipped, or painful menstruation.
Infertility — Drastic hormone fluctuations can make it difficult, or even impossible, for morbidly obese women to conceive a child. Additionally, these women are also at increased risk for miscarriage if they do become pregnant.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) — According to clinical studies, approximately half of all women with polycystic ovarian syndrome are obese. Type 2 diabetes, which is common among obese individuals, causes insulin levels to rise, dramatically affecting a female’s hormone balance. This in turn can affect ovary function and result in PCOS. PCOS can cause irregular or missed periods, numerous cysts on the ovaries, acne, infertility, excess hair on the face and body, and thinning of the hair on the head (alopecia).
Infertility — Researchers have discovered that obesity is linked to reduction in sperm count and the quality of sperm in males. Even if fertilization can be achieved, the possibility of miscarriage dramatically increases due to the poor quality of the sperm.
Increased Cancer Risk: Obese individuals are at greater risk for developing breast, endometrial, colon, prostate, and esophageal cancers.
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