It’s easy to put your head in the sand, like an ostrich, and ignore the health hazards of being overweight. But,in the same way as scary warnings on cigarette packs have encouraged many smokers to quit, it’s worth knowing the facts associated with carrying around significant amounts of extra weight. Obesity is one of the leading causes of death throughout the world, and kills three times more people than malnutrition. Here are 7 of the most serious health conditions linked to obesity
Type 2 diabetes
The risk of developing type 2 diabetes rises dramatically when you are severely overweight. According to the World Health Organisation, obesity is the cause of around 70% of type 2 diabetes in men and 75% of all cases in women.
Being overweight is linked with having a high blood pressure, raised cholesterol, and means your heart has to work harder to pump blood around a larger body. As a result, obesity at least doubles your risk of a heart attack or stroke. It also increases your risk of developing a deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism (in which a clot lodges in the lungs).
Carrying excess pounds puts an increased strain on your joints, especially your weight bearing joints such as your knees and hips. This can lead to osteoarthritis, an inflammatory and degenerative condition in which the cartilage and bone within a joint wears away to cause joint pain, stiffness and reduced mobility.
Being overweight is linked with an increased risk of developing cancer, especially cancers that affect the oesophagus, pancreas, bowel, breast (after menopause), womb lining (endometrium), kidneys, thyroid gland and gallbladder. For some types of cancer, obesity is thought to account for 40% of cases.
Your risk of developing lung conditions such as asthma increase when you are overweight. Sleep apnoea, in which breathing is interrupted when sleeping, is also common, leading to disturbed, restless sleep, tiredness and an increased risk of day-time accidents as a result.
Reproductive and urinary problems
Women who are obese are more likely to experience difficulty conceiving and health issues during pregnancy, as well as problems with menstruation. The risk of urinary leakage as a result of stress incontinence also rises with weight in women, while overweight men are more likely to experience erectile dysfunction.
Fatty liver disease
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) occurs when fats build up in liver cells. This leads to inflammation and can lead to fibrosis, cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer if not recognised and treated.
We’re not trying to scare you, but knowing the health risks associated with being significantly overweight might be just the motivational trigger you need to start losing weight slowly and healthily. Losing one pound per week may not seem like much, but think how much that adds up to over six months or even a year! It’s one of the best ways to improve your physical and psychological health.