Health Risks of Obesity

Written By: Callen

    Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of health complications. Science shows that those who carry extra weight around their midsection are at an increased risk of suffering from health complications. That includes conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Working to lose weight and to maintain a healthy body weight may help you reduce the onset of health complications and help to improve conditions you already have.

    Statistics on Obesity and Being Overweight

    The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases provides some shocking statistics on obesity and being overweight:

    • About 1 in 3 adults, or about 30.7%, are overweight in the US.
    • More than 2 in 5 adults, or about 42.4% of adults, have obesity.
    • About 1 in 11 adults, or about 9.2%, suffer severe obesity.

    The data is also available for children, with 1 in 6 children being overweight, 1 in 5 children being obese, and 1 in 16 children suffering severe obesity.

    When you consider health risks associated with obesity, consider these numbers:

    • The American Heart Association shows that, from 1999 to 2020, the number of people with obesity-related cardiovascular disease tripled to 6.6 per 100,000. During that period, 281,135 people died as a result of cardiac and obesity-related concerns.
    • The American Heart Association also notes that 30 to 53% of new diabetes cases each year are attributed to those who are obese and that 31 million Americans now suffer from the condition.
    • The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that 684,000 obesity-associated cancers are diagnosed in the US each year, including breast and colorectal cancer, which are the most common in women and men, respectively.

    List of Health Risks of Obesity

    Consider the following diseases that can be linked to obesity:

    • Type 2 diabetes: A condition noted for high blood glucose levels that lead to heart disease, strokes, kidney failure, nerve damage, and eye problems.
    • High blood pressure: Also known as hypertension, it reflects the amount of pressure of the blood flowing through the vessels. Too much pressure can lead to cell damage including heart damage and kidney damage.
    • Heart disease: Heart disease can include abnormal heart rhythms, heart failure, or heart attacks, all of which can lead to sudden death.
    • Strokes: A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain or neck blocks the flow of blood to a specific area, causing damage to brain tissue.
    • Metabolic syndrome: This condition is when a person has a larger waist size, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, high fasting blood glucose, and lower HDL cholesterol levels, which can increase the risk of heart disease and strokes.
    • Fatty liver disease: This condition occurs when damage, liver failure, or cirrhosis occurs in the liver, leading to a limitation on the liver’s function.
    • Cancer: Cancers of the esophagus, thyroid, breast, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, kidney, colon, and rectum are some of those associated with being obese.
    • Respiratory complications: This can include asthma and sleep apnea, among other conditions.
    • Osteoarthritis: Damage to the joints, especially the knees, that leads to swelling, pain, and reduced movement can be attributed to obesity in some people due to the increased weight.
    • Gout: Gout is a type of arthritic condition that can cause swelling and pain in the joints and can lead to pain and lack of mobility.
    • Gallbladder disease: This can include the development of gallstones or cholecystitis due to high amounts of fat around the midsections.
    • Pancreas: Your pancreas can also suffer damage and stop working properly to process food if you are overweight or obese.
    • Kidney disease: For some, kidney disease can develop, including chronic kidney disease or kidney failure.

    Also, note that obesity can also create complications for fertility and pregnancy. They may put a person at a higher risk of miscarriage or complications.

    Treatments of Obesity

    Various strategies exist for treating obesity. In every case, it is critical to seek out treatment since those who are obese, which means they have a body mass index (BMI) of over 30, are likely to struggle to lose weight.

    Bariatric Surgery

    Several types of bariatric surgery are available to reduce the size or functionality of the stomach or intestines. In doing so, it limits the physical amount of food that a person can consume, leading to drastic weight loss without feeling food. Bariatric surgeries can be invasive, but provide many with severe obesity the best opportunity to recover.


    There are medication options to help people lose weight. In some people who are healthy enough to use them, these medications can trick the brain into feeling full sooner. They may also make it harder for the body to absorb calories consumed. This can lead to reduced weight over time.

    Diet and Exercise

    At the heart of weight loss is always dieting and exercise. This is often where the process starts because it is so critical to ensuring long-term weight loss success and the rebuilding of a strong, healthy body. Dieting refers to the restriction of calories, fat, or carbohydrates, all of which can contribute to unhealthy weight. Exercise is the process of more physical movement with the goal of burning calories faster, which leads to weight loss.

    Often, a combination of these strategies is the best route for providing individuals with the support they need to avoid becoming one of the statistics.

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