In most cases, overweight or obesity seems as a problem that just affects the outward appearance of a person. But, the extra pounds can lead to many serious health risks which gradually ruins the quality of one’s life. If obesity is ignored or remains untreated, it can surely cause many serious and even life-threatening health risks.
Here are the top serious health risks of obesity which can decrease the life expectancy and sometimes leads to death :
- High Blood Pressure: Obesity causes plaque build up in the arteries which make them narrow. This makes the heart to work harder to pump the blood and strain the arteries. And the arteries resist the blood flow which causes a rise in blood pressure. It is known that normal blood pressure helps the body to function better, while high blood pressure can damage health in many ways. The chances of having high blood pressure increase if one is overweight or obese.
- Heart disease: As the body mass index rises, the risk of heart disease also increases. Higher BMI has been directly linked to developing the important risk factors for heart disease. Excess weight leads to increasing the blood pressure, LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and triglycerides which are responsible to build up the plaque in the arteries. This decreases the blood flow to the heart and so does the amount of oxygen which causes the heart attack or heart failure.
- Abnormal levels of Blood fats: Excess fats imbalances the levels of blood fats which include triglycerides, LDL and HDL. People who are overweight or obese, often have high levels of triglycerides, LDL and low levels of HDL cholesterol. This abnormal levels of fats in the blood increase the risk of heart disease.
- Stroke: As said earlier, obesity causes the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Eventually, the area where the plaque has been build up can rupture that can form a blood clot. If the clot formed is close to the brain, it can block the blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain which leads to a stroke. As the BMI increases, the risk of having a stroke also increases.
- Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis often affects the joints of the knee, hip and lower back. Obesity places extra pressure on these joints and wears away the cartilage. Cartilage is the tissue that cushions the joints and protects them. When the cartilage is damaged, people feel pain during the movement. This also leads to decrease the range of motion. Hence, obesity increases the risk of osteoarthritis.
- Infertility: Obesity affects both men and women. In men, obesity causes a drop in testosterone. It also decreases the sperm count, sperm motility which can lead to infertility. While in women, obesity causes hormonal changes and menstrual irregularities. This decreases the chances of pregnancy. Obese women have a higher risk of early and late miscarriages, other pregnancy complications like preeclampsia. Gestational diabetes etc. One can notice improved reproductive health by lowering his/her BMI values.
- Cancer: Being overweight increases the risk of developing a variety of cancers for both men and women. Women who are overweight or obese have increased the risk of cancers including breast, uterus, gallbladder, cervix, ovary, and colon. While obese men are at greater risk of developing colon and prostate cancer.
- Type 2 Diabetes: Type 2 diabetes reduces the body’s ability to control blood sugar, i.e, body cells don’t utilize insulin properly. If left untreated, type 2 diabetes leads to premature death, kidney disease, stroke, blindness and heart diseases. Overweight or obese people have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes when compared to people with normal weight.
- Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder in which symptoms such as snoring, breathing pauses during sleep are observed. Obese people have higher risk for sleep apnea and the excess fat stored around the neck may narrow the airway which makes it difficult to breathe. Eventually, sleep apnea causes daytime sleepiness and may lead to heart failure.
- Gallbladder stones: Gallstones are hard pieces formed in the gallbladder and are mostly made of cholesterol. So, obesity increases the risk of having gallstones which cause stomach or back pain. Obesity also leads to an enlarged gallbladder that affects its normal functioning. So, one needs to maintain a healthy weight to lower the risk of gallstones and gallbladder disease.