Obesity is a common health problem. Simple definition of obesity is BMI (body mass index) of 30 or more. BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight. If you have BMI of 30 or more you are at risk of various health problems, which an individual with normal body weight may not have. Obesity is not only a cosmetic problem, but a great health problem too.
Obesity is associated with numerous health risks. Some of the common health risks associated with obesity are:
- Heart disease: the higher the BMI, the greater is the risk of heart disease such as CHD (coronary heart disease). In fact CHD is the leading cause of death worldwide and major cause of CHD is obesity. To reduce risk of CHD, weight reduction is the most important measure.
- Hypertension: obesity is also associated with hypertension or high blood pressure. High blood pressure is associated with heart attacks (myocardial infarction) and cerebral strokes.
- Type 2 diabetes: obesity, hypertension and type 2 diabetes go side by side. In obese persons there is insulin resistance (which means more insulin is required to metabolize glucose than normal individuals) and lead to hyperglycemia or high blood sugar level and diabetes.
- Osteoarthritis: it is common problem among obese persons. Joints in knees, hips, and lower back are commonly involved. Because of obesity, these joints has to carry a larger load of weight and as a result damage in the joints occur, leading to osteoarthritis.
- Metabolic syndromes: it is a group of risk factors that increase the risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes etc. Obese persons are at greater risk of metabolic syndrome.
- Dyslipidemia: which is abnormality in blood lipid (fats) levels. Lipids such as cholesterol, HDL (high density lipoprotein), LDL (low density lipoprotein), triglycerides, VLDL (very low density lipoprotein) etc. Abnormality of these lipids in blood lead to increased risk of CHD, stroke etc. Obese individuals are at greater risk of having abnormal lipid levels in blood and risk of heart disease, stroke etc.
- Cancer: obese individuals are at greater risk of certain cancers such as breast cancer, colon cancer, gall bladder cancer etc.
- Gall stones: obese persons are at greater risk of gall stones than normal individuals. Gallstones are most made of cholesterol.
- Respiratory problems: obese individuals are prone to develop certain respiratory problems such as sleep apnea, OHS (obesity hypoventilation syndrome) etc. Sleep apnea is pausing of breath one or more times during sleeping. Sleep apnea occurs due to deposition of fat around the neck, which cause narrowing of airway, as seen among obese individuals.
- There are also number of health risks associated with obesity, not mentioned here. The life expectancy of obese individuals’ is lower than that of normal individuals. Children and teenagers who are obese, are also at great risk of various health problems.
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