Table of Contents
Obesity and Arthritis
Health Risk of Osteoarthritis For Obese Patients
Obesity, Excess Weight and Arthritis
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that affects the joints in the knees, hips and lower back. Over time, cartilage and bone of the joints wears away causing chronic pain.
Obesity Leads to Increased Risk of Arthritis
The symptoms of osteoarthritis – pain, stiffness and loss of mobility are worse in very overweight people as joints are put under greater load pressure. In fact, musculoskeletal problems, including osteoarthritis, are much more prevalent among obese patients, than among people of normal weight. Health studies show that obesity is a strong predictor for symptoms of osteoarthritis, especially in the knees.
Surgery For Arthritis
Losing weight reduces the stress put on the affected joints and can mean the difference between needing surgery or not. A weight loss of just 14 pounds means removing about 30 pounds of pressure. As it happens, many orthopedic surgeons will not perform joint replacement surgery on patients who are seriously overweight. Thus obese patients with osteoarthritis can often find themselves needing to lose weight without being able to take any physical exercise.
Obesity and Blood Pressure
Health Risk of Hypertension From Excess Body Fat
Obesity, Excess Weight and Blood Pressure
Obesity, especially central obesity, is an important risk factor for high blood pressure. The prevalence of hypertension increases with the degree of obesity.
Obesity Doubles Risk of High Blood Pressure
- The prevalence of hypertension in adults who are not overweight (body mass index <25) is 14.9 percent for men and 15.2 percent for women. In contrast, the prevalence of raised blood pressure levels in adults who are obese (body mass index > 30) is 41.9 percent for men and 37.8 percent for women. The prevalence of hypertension increases with the degree of obesity.
- If you are 20 percent overweight (obese), you are eight times more likely to suffer from high blood pressure than someone of normal weight.
Weight Loss Reduces Blood Pressure
Fortunately, even if your blood pressure is high, a modest weight loss can bring it under control. Blood pressure can drop with every pound lost. In many cases people on high blood pressure medication have been able to reduce the dose or stop taking it altogether after losing 5-10 percent of their body weight. For a person weighing 170 pounds this represents a weight loss of 8-17 pounds.
Obesity and Cancer Risks
Health Risk of Cancers From Excess Body Fat
Obesity Increases Risk of Cancers
Obesity is a risk factor for several types of cancer, including: endometrial (cancer of the lining of the uterus), colon, gall bladder, prostate, kidney, and postmenopausal breast cancer.
For example, nearly 50 percent of all breast cancers occur in obese women. And a woman who gains 20+ pounds, from age 18 to mid-life, doubles her risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, compared to women whose weight remains stable.
Obesity Increases Cancer Mortality Rate
In both men and women, higher body mass index is associated with higher mortality rates from cancers of the esophagus, colon and rectum, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and kidney. The same applies to cancers of the stomach and prostate in men, as well as cancers of the breast, uterus, cervix, and ovaries in women.
Other Cancers Linked to Obese Lifestyle
Unhealthy diet and lack-of-exercise habits associated with the “obesity lifestyle” may increase the risk of developing other cancers. Experts consider that up to 70 percent of all cancers may be linked with bad eating and sedentary lifestyle.
Obesity and Circulatory Problems
Health Risk From Excess Body Fat of Heart Attack, Stroke
Obesity is Risk Factor For Circulatory Problems
Obesity is is a major independent risk factor for heart disease and stroke because it leads to increased prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors such as high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, and high levels of triglycerides. Nearly 70 per cent of the diagnosed cases of heart disease in America are related to obesity, while elevated body mass index (BMI) is reported to increase the risk of ischemic stroke independent of other risk factors including age and systolic blood pressure.
Obesity Leads to Atherosclerosis – Precursor of Heart Attack and Stroke
Atherosclerosis or “narrowing of the arteries” is 10 times more common in obese people compared to people of normal weight. Narrowed coronary arteries can cause chest pain (angina) or heart attack. Blood clots can also form in narrowed arteries in the brain and cause a stroke. Coronary heart disease is more than twice as common in obese men under 45, than in men of normal weight. A weight gain of 20 pounds doubles the risk of heart disease, while strokes are twice as common in obese people than in those of normal weight.
Weight Loss Reduces Risk of Circulatory Problems
Evidence from the Framingham study indicates that a 10 percent reduction in body weight leads to a 20 percent reduction in the risk of developing coronary heart disease. Weight loss also reduces the risk of stroke.
Diabesity – Obesity – Diabetes
Link Between Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Insulin Resistance
“Diabesity” – The Obesity-Diabetes Link
Diabetes on the Rise
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), rates of type 2, or adult onset, diabetes have tripled in the last 30 years. This is due largely to the global epidemic of obesity, a major risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes.
The connection between obesity and diabetes is so visible (97 percent of all cases of Type 2 diabetes are caused by excessive weight) that some health experts have coined a new term, Diabesity®. The word encapsulates the diabetic/weight connection and is a step towards the wider cluster of symptoms of Insulin Resistance Syndrome, a frequent precursor of coronary heart disease.
Reducing Risk of Diabesity® Becoming Insulin Resistance Syndrome
Losing weight is of crucial importance in reducing health complications of diabetes and obesity. Following a low-GI diet is an essential first step. Taking regular physical exercise is also critical. Some obesity experts believe that physical inactivity is a key factor that ought to be given more attention for its impact on preventing/reducing health risks of both obesity and diabetes. Evidence suggests that inactivity (by itself) leads to increased insulin resistance, and that even one bout of exercise improves insulin sensitivity in those with insulin resistance.
Obesity and Diabetes
Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes
Obesity is closely linked with diabetes. Indeed, the link between obesity and diabetes is so strong (97 percent of all cases of Type 2 diabetes are caused by excessive weight) that some health experts have coined a new term, Diabesity® to reflect the association.
Obesity Increases Health Risk of Diabetes
Evidence suggests that the relative risk of developing diabetes was 2.9 times higher for obese persons (aged 20-75 years), than for persons of normal weight. Other studies indicate that compared to the risk of type 2 diabetes among normal-weight individuals, the risk is about twofold in the mildly obese (BMI 30+), rising strongly in cases of morbid obesity (BMI 40+) or malignant obesity (BMI 50+). The length of time a patient has suffered from obesity is an additional factor in diabetes risk.
Weight Loss Causes Reduction in Risk
Losing weight – even a modest amount – and taking regular exercise can help prevent diabetes in those at risk. For example, people who lose an average of 10 pounds weight and walk for just 30 minutes a day appear to reduce the risk of developing diabetes by nearly 60 percent. Weight loss and exercise also reduces symptoms of diabetes and improves the management of blood glucose levels in diabetics.
Obesity and Gallstones
Health Risk of Gallbladder Disease From Excess Body Fat
Obesity and Gallstones
It is estimated that 1 in 5 women will develop gallstones at some time in their life. The most likely candidate for gallstones is often described as ‘fair, fat and forty’.
What Causes Gallstones?
Gallstones are solid clusters of material that form in the gallbladder. They are made mostly of cholesterol. They may occur in one of three typical ways: (1) when bile contains too much cholesterol; (2) when bile contains an excess of certain proteins in the bile causing cholesterol to form hard crystals; or (3) when the gallbladder does not contract and empty its bile regularly. Western eating habits are also thought to encourage gallstone formation. This is because a low intake of dietary fiber and a high intake of highly refined food leads to a reduction in bile acid levels, which are needed to maintain the solubility of cholesterol.
Obesity Increases Risk of Gallstones
As weight increases, the risk for developing gallstones also rises. Health studies indicate that the risk may triple in women with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 32, compared to women with a BMI of 24 to 25. Risk may increase sevenfold in women with a BMI greater than 45 compared to those with a BMI less than 24. Evidence exists that central or abdominal obesity (excess fat around middle) leads to a greater risk of gallstones than does excessive fat on hips, buttocks and thighs.
Researchers have found that people who are obese may produce excessive levels of cholesterol. This can trigger gallstone formation.
Obese patients may also have large gallbladders that do not empty normally or completely. This, too, can trigger gallstone formation.
Yo-Yo Dieting Increases Risk of Gallstones
Diet to Reduce Risk of Gallstones
It is important to include some fat in your diet in order to stimulate gallbladder contracting and emptying. However, no more than 30 percent of your total calories should come from fat.
Studies have also shown that diets high in fiber and calcium may reduce the risk of gallstone development.
Increased intake of both soluble and insoluble fiber has been found to decrease the formation of deoxycholic, which increases the solubility of cholesterol.
Rapid Weight Loss Causes Gallstones
Paradoxically, losing weight too fast (3 pounds+ per week), typically triggers gallstone formation. To reduce the risk, aim for steady maintainable weight loss (eg. 2 pounds per week) and take regular physical exercise.
Obesity and Sleep Apnea
Excess Upper Fat and Disrupted Sleeping Patterns
Obesity and Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a common complaint among obese people. It is a serious condition which can cause a person to stop breathing for short periods of time during sleep, and cause drowsiness during the day. In addition, disrupted sleep can result in tiredness, headaches, depression, loss of memory and lack of energy. Obstructive sleep apnea has also been linked to more serious problems like high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. This breathing disorder is associated with obesity hypoventilation syndrome.
Obesity is Major Risk Factor For Sleep Apnea
Excess body fat on the neck and chest constricts the air-passageways and sometimes the lungs. Obesity, particularly abdominal and upper body obesity, is the most significant risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea. The more obese a person, the greater the risk of apnea. Thus morbid or malignant obesity carries a greater risk.
Weight Loss Reduces Sleep Apnea
Weight loss leads to a significant improvement in symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. Even modest weight reduction can help get the condition under control.
Obesity and Varicose Veins
Health Risk of Vascular Disease From Excess Body Fat
Risk of Varicose Veins
Blood normally flows along arteries to the feet and returns through veins back up the leg to the heart. Contraction of the leg muscles helps to pump the blood upwards to the heart, even when we are standing, and the veins contain one-way valves that prevent the blood flowing backwards down the leg. Varicose veins (swollen and painful veins) is a vascular disorder which occurs in the leg when this system breaks down and allows blood to pool in the leg veins instead of being pumped back up the body.
Obesity and Other Risk Factors For Varicose Veins
Obesity is a risk factor for varicose veins as excess fat increases pressure on the vascular system in the legs. Inherited weakness of the valves in the veins and female hormonal problems (and pregnancy) are other risk factors. Occupations that involve standing for long periods with little walking can also increase the risk of varicose veins.
Reducing Varicose Veins
Weight reduction helps to ease varicose veins. Many people see a dramatic improvement after losing as little as 10-14 pounds. Exercise is also a big help for anyone suffering from varicose veins – or other circulatory problems. It helps to pump blood around the body and maintain good circulation. In chronic cases of varicose veins, injection therapy or vascular surgery to remove or divide varicose veins, may be necessary.
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