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The Impact of Obesity

Individuals affected by severe obesity are often affected by many other obesity-related conditions and diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea and more. Being obese with these diseases leads to premature death.

Diabetes:

Patients with obesity are 400 times more likely to develop diabetes than patients with a healthy BMI. Diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes is reported to reduce longevity by as much as 35 percent and is a major cause for amputations, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and blindness. It can also lead to a number of other complications including kidney disease, hypertension, lipid abnormalities, circulatory and nerve defects, chronic infections, impotence, and more.

Hypertension:

Obesity is a major contributor to hypertension (high blood pressure). Hypertension affects the majority of individuals with severe obesity.

Cardiovascular Disease:

Cardiovascular disease accounts for the loss of nearly 700,000 lives per year. The American Heart Association considers obesity a major risk factor for heart disease. Large studies have shown that as the level of obesity increases, so does the risk for heart disease and associated mortality. Individuals affected by severe obesity have a high incidence of coronary artery disease and are at a considerable risk for a heart attack.

Obesity also leads to an enlargement of the left side of the heart which may result in congestive heart failure. Approximately 10 percent of individuals with severe obesity have congestive heart failure. In addition, severe obesity is associated with a greater incidence of arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats) resulting in a 3-fold increased risk of cardiac arrest.

Respiratory Disorders:

Individuals affected by obesity have reduced respiratory capacities, are more susceptible to respiratory infections, and have a far greater incidence of asthma. Studies find that approximately 25 percent of individuals with severe obesity have asthma and the majority of those affected by severe obesity have a serious, breathing disorder known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This condition occurs when excess fat in the neck, throat, and tongue obstructs air passageways during sleep causing apnea (a temporary cessation of breathing). An individual with OSA may have hundreds of apneic episodes each night. These episodes cause exceptionally low oxygen levels in tissue and blood which may contribute to systemic and pulmonary hypertension, heart failure, sudden cardiac death and stroke, as well as fatigue and drowsiness.

Cancer:

Obesity is believed to cause up to 90,000 cancer deaths per year. As BMI increases so does the risk for and mortality from specific types of cancer including: endometrial, cervical, ovarian, postmenopausal breast, colorectal, esophageal, pancreatic, gallbladder, liver, kidney, thyroid, prostate, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma and leukemia. The overall death rate from any type of cancer is increased by 52 percent for males and by 62 percent for females affected by severe obesity.

Cerebrovascular Disease and Stroke:

Obesity puts a strain on the entire circulatory system, increasing the risk for stroke. Obesity also is responsible for the development of other stroke risk factors including heart disease, hypertension, lipid abnormalities, type 2 diabetes and obstructive sleep apnea.

Accidents:

Severe obesity contributes to the development of a number of musculoskeletal issues that increase the risk for accidents, including aggravated joint diseases (osteoarthritis, gout), disc herniation, spinal abnormalities, and pseudo tumor cerebri, a condition associated with disorientation and visual impairment.

Other Conditions:

  • Alzheimer’s disease: Studies find that obesity during middle-age may contribute to hormonal and metabolic conditions that increase the risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease later in life.
  • Kidney disease: Hypertension, Type 2 Diabetes and congestive heart failure (all conditions caused or worsened by obesity) are major contributors to kidney disease and kidney failure.
  • Suicide: Reduced quality of life, depression, and societal discrimination caused by obesity may increase the risk for suicide. The incidence of suicide for those affected by obesity is approximately 2-fold higher than for patients with a healthy BMI.
  • Septicemia: The condition is a serious infection that rapidly progresses to septic shock and death. Studies have shown that individuals affected by obesity, particularly those affected by severe obesity, are at higher risk of septicemia than individuals who are normal weight.
  • Liver disease: Obesity is the major cause for fatty liver and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The majority of individuals with severe obesity have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Fatty liver disease can cause progressive fibrosis of the liver, resulting in impaired liver function, and eventually can progress to cirrhosis and liver failure.
 

Other conditions that could become life-threatening: maternal gestational diabetes and preeclampsia during pregnancy, increased incidence of miscarriages and stillborns, gallbladder disease, pancreatitis, and more.