Health Risks Related to Obesity
Premature Death
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. Individuals who are obese (BMI > 30)* have a 50 to 100% increased risk of premature death from all causes.
Cancer
Obesity is associated with some types of cancer including endometrial (cancer of the lining of the uterus), colon, gall bladder, prostate, kidney, and postmenopausal breast cancer. Women gaining more than 20 pounds from age 18 to midlife double their risk of postmenopausal breast cancer.
Reproductive complications
Complications of pregnancy: Risks of obesity during pregnancy are 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. Women who are obese during pregnancy are more likely to have gestational diabetes and problems with labor and delivery. Infants born are more likely to be high birth weight and, therefore, may face a higher rate of Cesarean section delivery and low blood sugar (which can be associated with brain damage and seizures). Risks of obesity during pregnancy brings an increased risk of birth defects, particularly neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. Pre-menopausal women suffering from morbid obesity often experience disruptions of the menstrual cycle, including interruption of the menstrual cycle, abnormal menstrual flow and increased pain associated with the menstrual cycle.
Type 2 Diabetes
Individuals suffering from morbid obesity develop a resistance to insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels. Over time, the resulting high blood sugar can cause serious damage to the body. A weight gain of 11 to 18 pounds increases a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes to twice that of individuals who have not gained weight. Over 80% of people with diabetes are overweight or obese.
High blood pressure/Heart disease
Excess body weight strains the ability of the heart to function properly. The resulting hypertension (high blood pressure) can result in strokes, as well as inflict significant heart and kidney damage. The risk of heart disease is increased in obese persons (BMI > 25).* High blood pressure is twice as common in adults who are obese. Obesity is associated with elevated triglycerides (blood fat) and decreased HDL cholesterol ("good cholesterol").
Osteoarthritis of weight-bearing joints
The additional weight placed on joints, particularly knees and hips, results in rapid wear and tear, along with pain caused by inflammation. Similarly, bones and muscles of the back are constantly strained, resulting in disk problems, pain and decreased mobility.
Sleep apnea/Respiratory problems
Fat deposits in the tongue and neck can cause intermittent obstruction of the air passage. Because the obstruction is increased when sleeping on your back, you may find yourself waking frequently to reposition yourself. The resulting loss of sleep often results in daytime drowsiness and headaches. Obesity is also associated with a higher prevalence of asthma.
Gastro-esophageal reflux/Heartburn
Acid belongs in the stomach and seldom causes any problem when it stays there. When acid escapes into the esophagus through a weak or overloaded valve at the top of the stomach, the result is called gastro-esophageal reflux, and "heartburn" and acid indigestion are common symptoms. Approximately 10-15% of patients with even mild sporadic symptoms of heartburn will develop a condition called Barrett's esophagus, which is a pre-malignant change in the lining membrane of the esophagus, a cause of esophageal cancer.
Depression
Individuals suffering from morbid obesity face constant challenges to their emotions: repeated failure with dieting, disapproval from family and friends, sneers and remarks from strangers. They often experience discrimination at work, cannot fit comfortably in theatre seats, or ride in a bus or plane.
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.
Additional quality of life consequences
Obesity can affect the quality of life through limited mobility, decreased physical endurance, as well as through social, academic, and job discrimination.

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