What Are the Dangers of Obesity?

What Are the Dangers of Obesity?

We hear the term obesity used a lot these days, with various industries and programs targeting weight loss. But what is it exactly, and what are the dangers associated with it? 

Whereas obesity is often used synonymously with being overweight, the condition does have a specific definition. In order for someone to be considered obese, their body mass index must be over 30. Moreover, the condition involves an excessive accumulation of body fat. Although it is easy to think of obesity as a cosmetic issue more than anything else, we now know that the condition is accompanied by a plethora of health-related issues and diseases. We will examine some of these here.

Obesity Increases the Risks for All Other Conditions

Firstly, obesity is associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality. In other words, being considered obese brings about an increased likelihood of dying from any cause, as even things that might not kill another person (such as a slip and fall) could have devastating effects on an obese person. On average, obese individuals live 10 years less than non-obese persons.

Next, obesity is closely linked with cardiovascular diseases. Roughly 697,000 people in the US die from these conditions every year, about 1 in 5 deaths. Furthermore, there are 805,000 heart attacks in the US every year. The excess weight carried by obese individuals can cause a buildup of fatty material in the arteries, expressed through high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, and high levels of triglycerides (which raise the risk of atherosclerosis). In turn, this can lead to structural and functional changes in the heart, increasing the risk of atrial fibrillation and sudden cardiac death. Obesity can also increase the possibility of a stroke through hypertension, diabetes mellitus, accelerated atherosclerosis, and more, eventually leading to progressive atherosclerosis and or thromboembolism that may result in arterial occlusion or rupture. The aforementioned hypertension, also called high blood pressure can also be brought about by obesity (or worsened by it for those that already suffer). 

The Possible Onset of Diabetes

Another major concern regarding obesity is the potential for the development of type 2 diabetes. This form of diabetes occurs when the body is unable to form or use insulin effectively. As insulin is responsible for regulating blood sugars, type 2 diabetes can cause blood sugar to reach dangerous levels. Body mass has a strong correlation with insulin resistance, as the amount of nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA), glycerol, hormones, cytokines, proinflammatory markers, and other factors that lead to insulin resistance are increased. Furthermore, when the β-islet cells of the pancreas are impaired, the control of blood sugar is relinquished. Once the β-islet cells fail in conjunction with insulin resistance, diabetes becomes practically inevitable. 

Reducing Obesity Reduces Cancer Risk

One of the most terrible diseases afflicting people today is cancer, which can have a devastating and deadly effect on the person suffering from it. Moreover, treating it is a grueling process, both for the patient and their loved ones. Perhaps surprisingly, obesity is linked with the formation of 13 different cancers. These are meningioma (cancer in the tissues covering the brain and spinal cord), adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, multiple myeloma (cancer of the blood cells), kidney cancer, thyroid cancer, breast cancer in postmenopausal women, liver cancer, gallbladder cancer, upper stomach cancer, cancer of the pancreas, colon and rectum cancer, cancer of the uterus, and ovarian cancer. The reason behind the development of these cancers in obese individuals is the changes that are caused in the body by excess weight, including long-lasting inflammation and heightened levels of insulin, insulin growth factor, and sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone). 

Obesity Deteriorates Sleep Quality

Obesity has also been shown to bring about sleep apnea. This is due to fat deposits in the upper respiratory tract narrowing the airway. As there is decreased muscular activity in the area, hypoxic and apneic episodes can result, eventually leading to sleep apnea. In turn, sleep apnea can increase the risk of irregular heart rhythms (which can lower blood pressure), and increase the risks of coronary heart disease, heart attacks, heart failures, and strokes. Moreover, sleep apnea can cause daytime fatigue and poor concentration.

Joint Wear & Tear

Joint pains can be agonizing. Consider the knees. Every pound of body weight adds 4 to 6 pounds of pressure to each knee joint. The same can be said for the hips. In time, the extra weight contributes to osteoarthritis, the wearing down of the flexible tissue at the end of the bones. Besides resulting in a lot of pain, this condition has other consequences, as obese individuals are 20 times more likely to need a knee replacement than those that are of normal weight.

Increased COVID Risk

Some of the diseases described above combine when an obese person is infected with COVID-19, to devastating effect. As obesity is associated with decreased immune function (due to heightened inflammation) and decreased lung capacity and reserve (which can bring about issues, including going on a ventilator), it leads to a significant increase in the severity of the virus, along with higher mortality rates. 

Obesity Affects Emotional Well-Being

Mental health is a topic that has rightfully come into the public light in recent years. Its effects can not only be detrimental to the person suffering from them but can also be devastating to  that person’s loved ones. Obesity can play a significant role here as well, as it increases the likelihood of major depression, bipolar disorder, and panic disorder. So much so, that obese individuals are at a 55% higher risk of developing depression over their lifetime than those who did not have obesity. This is due to a variety of factors, including reduced quality of life (with limitations on both physical and occupational functioning due to both chronic ailments and the individual’s size), physiological issues (as heightened inflammation can bring about depression), and weight bias, which can both feed into a poor body image. The biases can also lead to actual discrimination, from employment opportunities to the quality of health care those individuals can receive.

New, Highly Effective Solutions for Weight-Loss

These are just some of the issues surrounding obesity. Essentially, this disease affects an individual’s life in every aspect. Fortunately, there are revolutionary treatments such as Semaglutide for weight loss that can allow obese individuals (or those with a BMI over 27 and certain conditions) to drasticallylower their weight fast by targeting the body’s hunger mechnisms, thus increasing both their quality of life and their life itself. There are various effective semaglutide protocols, and minimal side effects. Semaglutide is widely available for purchase, and only needs to be taken once a week.