The majority of people are aware of how important it is to maintain a healthy weight, but it’s always easier said than done. There are many reasons that a person can be overweight, from overeating to hormonal or other health conditions. However, excessive weight is associated with a variety of health issues for most people. Here are eight of the most common health issues that are associated with being overweight or obese.
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Not all cancers are caused by excessive weight (for example, lung cancer is most frequently caused by smoking), but certain cancers are associated with being overweight. Excess body fat is associated with the development of breast, colorectal, esophageal, kidney, pancreatic, and uterine cancers.
The link between being overweight and developing cancer is likely inflammation. Being overweight increases the visceral fat (fat around the organs) in the body, which can affect the body’s normal functioning. One major function affected by inflammation is the body’s hormones, which hormonal imbalances are known to cause certain cancers in women.
#2: Gallbladder Disease
Being overweight puts you at a higher risk of developing gallstones, especially if you’re a woman. The link between being overweight and gallbladder disease lies in the bile, which is a digestive fluid that’s stored in the gallbladder. Those who are overweight tend to have more cholesterol in their bile, and this can cause gallstones.
#3: Heart Problems
Cholesterol, specifically the bad (LDL) cholesterol also affects the heart. Being overweight not only increases the bad cholesterol but also decreases the good (HDL) cholesterol. Therefore, the heart has to work harder and your risk for heart disease is increased.
Being overweight also requires the body to use more blood to supply oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. This increases blood pressure and also causes the heart to work harder.
#4: Mental Health Issues
Overweight adults are much more likely to develop mental health issues than adults who are at a healthy weight. There are strong links between being overweight and mental health, as both can cause the other to develop. Those already suffering from mental health issues can use food as a way to cope and/or be burdened by excess stress (which can also cause weight gain). Here are some examples of how being overweight can cause mental health problems:
- Body Image: It’s no secret that society as a whole has a very negative view of overweight individuals, and many individuals internalize these negative views.
- Physically: Excess body fat and poor eating patterns increase inflammation, which is associated with both physical and mental illness.
- Quality of Life: Being extremely overweight can affect one’s ability to socialize and do the things they love, which takes a toll on their mental health.
- Weight Bias: Some of the negative views against overweight individuals can lead to discrimination in many areas of life, including healthcare.
Osteoarthritis affects the joints, but the exact link between being overweight and developing osteoarthritis is still unknown. It may have to do with excess weight causing inflammation, but some experts believe that it can be simply because of the excess weight put on the joints, causing the wear and tear of the cartilage.
#6: Sleep Apnea
One of the main causes of sleep apnea (continuous stopping and starting of breathing during sleep) is caused by being overweight. Fatty tissues in the neck and throat cause the airways to narrow, obstructing breathing. Because of this, many people have to use a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine to keep their airways open while they sleep. Unfortunately, some CPAP machines have done more harm than good, releasing dangerous particles into the user’s airways.
As mentioned earlier, overweight individuals use more blood, which increases blood pressure. Not only does high blood pressure increase your risk for a heart attack, but it also increases your risk for a stroke.
#8: Type 2 Diabetes
Again, carrying extra weight (especially around the midsection) leads to more inflammation and many hormonal changes. One of these hormonal changes in the way the pancreas creates insulin or insulin resistance— which causes Type 2 Diabetes. This is the most common type and is most often associated with a sedentary lifestyle and a poor diet.
Losing weight is hard, but you can become healthier by changing your lifestyle. Make an attempt to move around more, and focus on healthy meals— specifically, anti-inflammatory foods.
The key is to maintain a healthy weight because being underweight can cause a lot of health issues as well. Neither overweight or underweight is ideal, and it’s also not safe to lose too much weight too fast.
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