Obesity is Risky Business

As the rate of overweight and obesity climbs, so do the related physical and psychological consequences. Studies indicate that the lowest risks for heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers are in people who have a BMI between 21 and 25. The risks increase slightly when BMI values are between 25 and 27, significantly when BMI is between 27 and 30, and dramatically when BMI is over 30.

There is a long list of chronic illnesses caused by, or related in some way to, obesity. In addition, overweight is one of the few remaining things that is laughable in our culture.

What diseases are caused by excess weight?

Scientists believe obesity contributes to disease in several ways. First, it causes metabolic changes in the body. As the number of fat cells increase, they grow in size and produce chemicals that increase the risk of diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, and some cancers. Second, excess body weight can cause injury and illness such as osteoarthritis and sleep apnea. Specific diseases and conditions related to overweight are as follows:

Cardiovascular disease — People who are obese have almost three times the risk for heart disease as people with normal weight. Overweight people are at increased risk for heart failure.

Insulin-resistance and type 2 diabetes — Almost 90 percent of type 2 diabetics are obese.

High blood pressure — The risk of hypertension increases as weight increases.


Cancer — The risk of esophageal cancer is increased because of a higher rate of gastroesophogeal reflux disorder (heartburn) in people who are overweight. Obese women have two to three times the risk for uterine cancer than thinner women, and are also at higher risk for gallbladder cancer. Obese men are at higher risk for colon cancer and prostate cancer.

Arthritis — Obesity places stress on muscles and bones, increasing the risk of hernia, low back pain, gout, and arthritic conditions.

Gum disease and Cataracts

Gallstones — The incidence of gallstones is significantly higher in obese people.

Infertility — Overweight is connected to uterine fibroids and menstrual irregularities in women and reduced testosterone levels in men.

Negative effect on pregnancy — Being overweight increases the risk of high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, blood clots, and cesarean delivery. Infants of obese women are at higher risk for neural tube defects.

Adult-onset asthma

Sleep apnea — The upper throat relaxes and collapses at intervals during sleep and tempo rarily blocks the passage of air.
One of the most alarming trends is the increase in type 2 diabetes among overweight people. The CDC found a 61 percent increase in the number of Americans who are obese from 1991-2000, and a simultaneous 49 percent increase in the number of Americans who have diabetes from 1990-2000. About 800,000 new cases of diabetes are diagnosed each year, with most people developing type 2.

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