Obesity is a chronic disease that one third of American adults suffer from. It’s a debilitating disease, affecting many aspects of an individual’s health. A person is considered obese if he or she has a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. BMI is used to estimate a person’s body fat based on their weight, height and age.
Health Risks of Obesity
Someone who is obese has a higher risk for developing obesity-related conditions. The higher your BMI, the greater your risk of developing those conditions, which include:
- Type 2 diabetes. Obesity can affect the body’s insulin resistance, which can raise blood sugar levels and increase the risk of diabetes.
- Hypertension (high blood pressure). Higher concentrations of fat tissue caused by obesity require more blood circulating through the body. This puts more pressure on the artery walls, and can lead to high blood pressure.
- Hyperlipidemia. This condition involves high concentration of lipids in the blood, such as cholesterol and triglycerides. It may lead to artery blockage and heart disease.
- Metabolic syndrome. Along with elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure and insulin resistance, abdominal obesity is one of the major aspects of metabolic syndrome.
- Sleep apnea. Obesity may cause respiratory problems that are linked to sleep apnea.
- Heart disease. Coronary artery disease (CAD) often occurs in obese people due to the fatty deposits that build up in the arteries around the heart.
- Joint disorders (osteoarthritis). Carrying extra weight puts pressure on the knees, hip and back and can wear down the cartilage that protects your joints.
The way obesity might affect your health depends on many factors, including your age, gender, activity level and where most of your body fat is located. However, even if your obesity doesn’t cause you to develop one of these conditions, it’s a disease all on its own and should be treated as such.
Additionally, research has shown that treating obesity with LAP-BAND surgery may improve some of obesity’s associated health risks such as the ones listed above.