Obesity and Health Consequences

The prevalence of obesity continues to be a health concern for adults, children and adolescents in the United States. Two thirds of Americans are now either obese or overweight. Obesity increases the risk of many diseases and health conditions, among others including:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Breathing problems, and
  • Psychological disorders.

(source: Center for Disease Control (CDC))

“In 2007, only one state (Colorado) had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%. Thirty states had a prevalence equal to or greater than 25%; three of these states (Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee) had a prevalence of obesity equal to or greater than 30%.”
(source: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity/trend/maps/ )

The health consequences of overweight and obesity include:

An estimated 300,000 deaths per year may be attributable to obesity.

Individuals who are obese have a 50% to 100% increased risk of premature death from all causes, compared to individuals with a healthy weight.

The incidence of heart disease (heart attack, congestive heart failure, sudden cardiac death, angina or chest pain, and abnormal heart rhythm) is increased in persons who are overweight or obese.

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.

Overweight and obesity are associated with an increased risk for 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, compared to women whose weight remains stable.

Sleep apnea (interrupted breathing while sleeping) is more common in obese persons.

Obesity is associated with a higher prevalence of asthma.

For every 2-pound increase in weight, the risk of developing arthritis is increased by 9 to 13%.

Symptoms of arthritis can improve with weight loss.

Overweight and obesity are associated with increased risks of gall bladder disease, incontinence, increased surgical risk, and depression.

Obesity can affect the quality of life through limited mobility and decreased physical endurance as well as through social, academic, and job discrimination.

Risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, occur with increased frequency in overweight children and adolescents compared to those with a healthy weight.

Type 2 diabetes, previously considered an adult disease, has increased dramatically in children and adolescents. Overweight and obesity are closely linked to type 2 diabetes.

Overweight adolescents have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults. This increases to 80% if one or more parent is overweight or obese.

The most immediate consequence of overweight, as perceived by children themselves, is social discrimination.

Weight loss, as modest as 5 to 15% of total body weight in a person who is overweight or obese, reduces the risk factors for some diseases, particularly heart disease.

Weight loss can result in lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar, and improved cholesterol levels.

(source: The United States Department of Health and Human Sciences)