Common, expensive, and very serious.
These are the words that best describe obesity in the US. Just look around you to see how widespread obesity is. Obesity prevalence is at an all-time high of 41.9% as of March 2020.
This means that a little over 4 out of 10 Americans are considered obese. Nearly 1 in 4 Americans are severely obese, almost double the figure from two decades ago.
Let’s not forget how expensive obesity is in the US health care system. The medical cost of obesity in the US stands at US$173B in 2019. Obese individuals spent nearly two thousand dollars more on medical costs than individuals in the healthy weight range!
In short, let’s not kid ourselves or be blind to reality: obesity is a serious health condition.
However, obesity is also a preventable health condition. You don’t become obese because you were born that way.
Obesity is from a lifestyle where you consume energy-dense food high in fats and sugars. The same lifestyle is characterized by decreasing physical activity brought on by modern conveniences.
These two factors cause people to gain weight especially if they are unchecked through the years. No one is spared as adults and children alike are increasingly becoming obese due to dietary and sedentary lifestyle patterns.
That also means even children can become vulnerable to health conditions that can come about because of obesity. But what exactly are these health conditions? Are they really that serious?
In a word: yes.
Keep on reading to find out what can happen to you or any individual if obesity is not addressed.
What are some health conditions caused by obesity?
As mentioned above, obesity is harmful to the health of individuals and is a serious health condition. And if you are obese, you are at risk for any of the following serious health conditions.
Around 2.8 million around the world die annually due to obesity or being overweight. More people now die due to obesity and being overweight than being underweight. It is the 4th leading risk factor for death in the US, with 393,859 deaths in 2019.
An individual who is obese is more likely to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol level. These are risk factors for heart disease or stroke.
Also, more fat mass in the body means your heart needs to work harder to pump blood. And when blood supply to the brain is impeded, a stroke may occur.
Arteries may also become narrow with prolonged levels of bad cholesterol in our bodies. Constricted arteries may lead to a heart attack.
Obesity is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Insulin production – which regulates blood sugar levels – is affected when an individual is obese. This may lead to insulin resistance, which then results in diabetes.
Most people who develop type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. A 7% reduction in weight, along with regular exercise, may prevent or delay the onset of diabetes.
The excess body weight in obese individuals puts a strain on the weight-bearing joints in the body such as the knee, hip, or lower back. The more weight you have on your body, the more that the cartilage that protects these joints will wear away, which results in osteoarthritis.
Obese or overweight individuals are more likely to develop sleep apnea, a potentially serious breathing disorder that occurs during sleep. Sleep apnea causes a person to snore heavily, as well as for breathing to stop and start repeatedly during sleep.
Sleep apnea is caused by fat deposits in the upper respiratory tract and decreased muscle activity when throat and tongue muscles are more relaxed. These two factors combined congest the airway, making it more difficult to breathe and resulting in less oxygen in the blood.
Being overweight or obese is linked with certain types of cancer. Excess fat in the body is a risk factor for certain types of cancer such as adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, post-menopausal breast cancer, colon and rectum, uterus, gallbladder, upper stomach, kidney, liver, ovaries, pancreas, thyroid, meningioma (a type of brain cancer), and multiple myeloma.
Also, changes in the body due to excess weight can lead to chronic inflammation and high levels of insulin. This high level in turn may lead to the development of certain types of cancers.
Obesity may cause complications during pregnancy and delivery for the pregnant woman and her baby. These include gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, blood clots, heavier bleeding than normal post-delivery, premature birth, miscarriage, and stillbirth.
To ensure the health and well-being of women who are planning to get pregnant and their baby, a weight-loss management plan is recommended.
Severe COVID-19 outcomes
Obesity is also linked with more severe COVID-19 outcomes. Obese individuals with COVID-19 are at an increased risk of severe symptoms. A study on obesity and COVID-19 also reveal increased hospitalizations, intensive care unit admission, use of mechanical ventilation, and death among individuals with higher BMI.
With COVID-19 becoming part of our everyday lives, utmost care and caution must be practiced by overweight or obese individuals.
Of course, do take note that whether or not an obese individual is at risk for developing any of these health conditions depends on another set of factors. If some of these diseases run in your family, you are more likely to be at risk for these health conditions. And if the excess weight in your body is found in your stomach, you are also at higher risk for these diseases.
How do you minimize the occurrence of these health conditions caused by obesity?
Obesity and its resulting health conditions can be minimized if not altogether eliminated via weight loss. That is why bariatric surgery is recommended for obese and morbidly obese individuals – it is not just for aesthetics. Otherwise, these individuals will definitely be affected by serious health risks.
In addition to weight loss, overweight or obese individuals should make better food choices by eating a balanced diet. Taking care of one’s self through adequate sleep and getting enough exercise and physical activity will also contribute to weight management and overall well-being.
Get obesity in order with bariatric surgery from The Weight Loss Surgery Center Of Los Angeles.
Obesity is a complex, multi-factor health condition that contributes to weight gain over the long run. The good thing is that obesity and the health conditions and diseases associated with it are preventable.
The road to good health requires changes at the individual level in terms of lifestyle choices and eating habits. This needs to be complemented with changes in the social and environmental factors to promote healthy weight and overall well-being.
If you or someone you care about is overweight or obese and may be at higher risk for any of these conditions, know that you can reach out to medical professionals to help you get on track to good health, like us at Davtyan Medical. That’s especially if bariatric surgery is the only option left to get healthy.
Contact us today and let’s evaluate how we can get you on track to being healthy. We look forward to hearing from you!