Obesity Risks

Obesity is a health hazard. Several serious medical conditions have been linked to obesity, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. Approximately 280,000 adult deaths in the United States each year are related to obesity. Obese men are more likely than non-obese men to die from cancer of the colon, rectum, or prostate. Obese women are more likely than non-obese women to die from cancer of the gallbladder, breast, uterus, cervix, or ovaries.

  • An estimated 300,000 deaths per year may be attributable to obesity.
  • The risk of death rises with increasing weight.
  • Even moderate weight excess (10 to 20 pounds for a person of average height) increases the risk of death, particularly among adults aged 30 to 64 years.

Type 2 Diabetes

  • Type 2 diabetes is a disease in which blood sugar levels are above normal.
  • High blood sugar is a major cause of early death, heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and blindness.
  • Being overweight causes cells to change, making them less effective at using sugar from the blood. This then puts stress on the cells that produce insulin (a hormone that carries sugar from the blood to cells) and makes them gradually fail.

Heart Disease & Stroke

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. , and stroke is the third leading cause.
  • Heart disease means that the heart and circulation (blood flow) are not functioning normally. If you have heart disease, you may suffer from a heart attack, congestive heart failure, sudden cardiac death, angina (chest pain), or abnormal heart rhythm.
  • During a stroke, blood and oxygen do not flow normally to the brain, possibly causing paralysis or death.
  • Very high blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides (blood fats) can also lead to heart disease and often are linked to being overweight.


  • Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • Cancer occurs when cells in one part of the body grow abnormally or out of control and possibly spread to other parts of the body.
  • Being overweight may increase the risk of developing several types of cancer, like cancers of the colon, esophagus, and kidney, uterine and postmenopausal breast cancer in women.
  • Being overweight might cause the fat cells to make hormones that affect cell growth and lead to cancer.


  •   Osteoarthritis is a common joint disorder. With osteoarthritis, the joint bone and cartilage (tissue that protects joints) wear away. Osteoarthritis most often affects the joints of the knees, hips, and lower back.
  •   Extra weight may place extra pressure on joints and cartilage, causing them to wear away.


  • Gallstones are clusters of solid material that form in the gallbladder. They are made mostly of cholesterol and can sometimes cause abdominal or back pain.
  • Being overweight and eating a diet high in fat, particularly saturated fat, is a major contributor to the formation of gallstones. Overweight people may produce more cholesterol, a risk factor for gallstones.
  • Overweight people may have an enlarged gallbladder, which may not work properly.

Liver Disease

  • Fatty liver disease occurs when fat builds up in the liver cells and causes injury and inflammation in the liver.
  • It can sometimes lead to severe liver damage, cirrhosis (build-up of scar tissue that blocks proper blood flow in the liver), or even liver failure.

Reproductive Problems in Women

  • Obese women experience menstrual irregularities and infertility.
  • Obesity during pregnancy is associated with increased risk of death in both the baby and the mother and increases the risk of maternal high blood pressure by 10 times.
  • Obese women during pregnancy are more likely to have gestational diabetes and problems with labor and delivery.
  • Obesity during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of birth defects, particularly neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.

Psychological and social effects

  • Obese people often face prejudice or discrimination in the job market, at school, and in social situations. Feelings of rejection, shame, or depression are common.

High Blood Pressure

  •  Being overweight is an important risk factor for high blood pressure.
  • For example, if you are 20% overweight (i.e. obese), you are eight times more likely to suffer from high blood pressure than someone of normal weight.

Urinary stress incontinence

  • A large, heavy abdomen and relaxation of the pelvic muscles, especially associated with the effects of childbirth, may cause the valve on the urinary bladder to be weakened, leading to leakage of urine with coughing, sneezing, or laughing.

A healthy diet and regular physical activity are both important for maintaining a healthy weight. Over time, even a small decrease in calories eaten and a small increase in physical activity can help prevent weight gain or facilitate weight loss.

It is recommended that obese individuals should try to lose substantial amounts of weight.