Hazards of Obesity

Why all the worry about obesity? In years past Overweight or obese people were considered healthy. But many health problems are associated with being overweight, and the more overweight, the greater the health risk.

Obesity is now classified as a disease by the American Medical Association. The cost of obesity and related illness to the health care system is about $3.5 BILLION annually. Let’s look at some of the health problems associated with obesity.

Heart disease – Most people who are overweight also have poor physical conditioning. The foods that makes us overweight or obese contribute to high cholesterol and triglycerides (fat) in the blood. The cholesterol and fat are deposited on the walls of the arteries resulting in plaque that limits blood flow to the heart muscle. Eventually the artery becomes completely blocked preventing blood from flowing to the muscle down stream. Without adequate blood flow, the muscle starts to die. If the blockage occurs in a small artery of the heart it’s a warning that bigger things are yet to come. If the blockage is in one of the major coronary arteries the results are catastrophic, frequently with sudden death.

Type 2 Diabetes – The greatest cause of Type 2 Diabetes is obesity. At one time Type 2 Diabetes was called Adult Onset Diabetes, but now, with the increase in childhood obesity, more children are being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Forty years ago when I was a student, one of our instructors, an endocrinologist, told us that if we could get our “adult onset” diabetics down to ideal body weight no medication would be needed to control the blood sugar. At that time we didn’t know why, but now we do. With obesity comes insulin resistance. The islet cells of the pancreas secrete insulin, the hormone that moves sugar from the blood into the cells. Obese persons, develop a resistance to the insulin blocking the movement of sugar from the blood into the cells. Over time the pancreas wears out and can no longer make insulin. Then insulin shots are required. The first and preferred treatment for Type 2 Diabetes is weight loss to ideal body weight through diet control and exercise. If this is done early enough insulin injections can be prevented.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea – Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is frequent pauses in breathing while sleeping. This causes micro awakenings during the night preventing adequate rest, resulting in excessive daytime sleepiness. OSA is much more common in obese and overweight persons, and can in turn lead to greater weight gain and obesity.

Osteoarthritis – The greatest risk for degenerative or Osteoarthritis is living long enough to get it. It’s a disease of aging. There are a couple of things that can increase your chances of developing, or having a more severe case of osteoarthritis. One is something we can’t do much about, getting older. The other is how much we weigh.  Being overweight puts more stress on the weight bearing joints.

Cancer – Risk for colon, pancreatic, breast, and gallbladder cancer raises with obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and diabetes, all of which are common in patients who live an unhealthy lifestyle.

Liver disease – NASH (Non Alcoholic Steatohepatitis) or fatty liver disease is now recognized as the second leading cause of liver cirrhosis, behind excessive alcohol intake, and can lead to liver cancer.

Through changes to a healthier lifestyle you can decrease your risk of disability and early death.

This blog is intended for information purposes only and should not be considered Medical Advice. Discuss with your doctor any personal medical conditions, dietary changes or exercise programs before making any lifestyle changes.

©2015 Guy A. Crawford





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About Crawford, PA, Retired

I am a retired Physician Assistant. I graduated with the second PA class of Emory University in 1974. My first job out of school was with the ER at the Medical Center in Columbus. After 1 year I moved to Roanoke, AL to work in a rural family practice with Dr. John E. Campbell, the author of the book "Basic Trauma Life Support", a textbook used in many EMT classes. Following that I worked for 3 years with the Federal Prison System, providing healthcare to imates. In 1987 I accepted a position with the University of Florida Transplant Program as a donor coordinator. The last 18 years of my career were spent in family practice and urgent care. I am now retired from clinical medicine but hope to continue to help people through this blog, articles, and booklets about healthy lifestyles.

6 thoughts on “Hazards of Obesity

  1. I am not sure where you are getting your info, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more. Thanks for great info I was looking for this information for my mission.

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