Obesity is a complex health condition that doesn’t always have a simple cause. While overeating and insufficient exercise can result in obesity, several health conditions cause weight gain as well. Regardless, obesity can have a negative effect on your overall health, as it can cause several complications. The following are some of the most common health risks caused by obesity:
- Type 2 Diabetes. Type 2 diabetes occurs when your blood sugar is higher than most. Your cells develop a resistance to insulin, or your pancreas can’t make enough of it. Since the insulin doesn’t penetrate the cells, it builds up in the bloodstream instead. Type 2 diabetes increases the risk of heart failure, vision problems, kidney problems, and more.
- Sleep apnea. Sleep apnea causes a temporary cessation of breathing while you sleep. The excess weight around the throat narrows airways, which can result in breathing interruptions, snoring, and insomnia.
- Liver disease. Obesity can lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and eventually nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). While nonalcoholic fatty liver (NAFL) isn’t a significant risk at first, NASH causes inflammation and damage to your liver. Given enough time, it can lead to cirrhosis.
- Heart disease. Obesity causes the risk of heart disease to skyrocket as it leads to a buildup of fatty deposits in your arteries. These narrowed arteries restrict blood flow to your heart and increase your risk of a heart attack.
- Stroke. Obesity more than doubles your risk of having a stroke. Much like a heart attack, strokes are caused by narrowed arteries. However, strokes are the result of restricted blood flow to the brain.
- High blood pressure. When the body has an excess of fatty tissue, it requires more oxygen and nutrients. However, this forces your heart to work harder to pump blood throughout your body. This surge puts strain on your arteries, which causes a buildup of pressure. Eventually, high blood pressure (hypertension) causes damage to your arteries and your heart.
- Osteoarthritis (OA). Age, injury, and obesity can all cause OA, which results in joint pain and joint stiffness. The pain typically worsens as the day progresses. Severe cases of OA can lead to a complete loss of cartilage, which can cause joint pain even when resting.
- Certain cancers. While the mechanisms aren’t yet fully understood, research has consistently shown a link between obesity and an increased risk of certain types of cancer. Some potential causes include chronic inflammation causing DNA damage, fat tissues excreting too much estrogen, heightened blood serum levels of insulin, or the effect fat cells exert on cell growth regulation.
- Menstruation problems. Obesity can cause a hormonal imbalance that leads to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS causes irregular periods, excessive body hair or facial hair, and acne. It can also contribute to ongoing weight gain as it increases insulin resistance.
- Pregnancy complications. Obese individuals are more likely to have insulin resistance, elevated blood sugar, or high blood pressure. These conditions increase the risk of certain pregnancy complications, including gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, premature birth, and more.
The harmful health effects of obesity on your health and quality of life are well documented. If you’re struggling with obesity, you may not know where to begin to improve your health. Contact us to learn how bariatric surgery can help you.