Obesity is a condition that affects over 93 million Americans, or nearly 40% of the US population according to the CDC. Although there are a few methods to diagnose obesity, it’s commonly determined using BMI. A BMI of over 30 indicates obesity (calculate your BMI here). For many, they are surprised to learn that their height and weight put them in the obesity range. Many people with obesity don’t see their weight as an issue. They may feel fine, great even. But, obesity can have harmful side effects even if you feel fine now.
Obesity comes with a cost. First, there is a cost to an individual’s health. At least nine health conditions are associated with obesity. Second, there is a financial cost to obesity. The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the US is $147 billion dollars (in 2008 dollars). For each individual with obesity, annual medical costs are estimated to be $1429 higher than their normal weight peers.
For people with obesity who feel healthy, it may only be a matter of time before their health is affected. The physical effects of obesity, as well as lifestyle choices often associated with obesity such as high calorie diet and a sedentary lifestyle, can begin to affect people before they can feel the difference. Some comorbidities don’t have any outward symptoms. For other conditions, once you begin to have symptoms, the condition may have already taken a toll on their health. It’s best to know what conditions are associated with obesity so you can consult with your doctor for diagnosis or learn what signs and symptoms to look out for.
These nine conditions are commonly associated with obesity:
- Osteoarthritis- The extra weight can put additional stress on joints, which can lead to bone and cartilage degradation.
- Type 2 diabetes- Along with obesity, this is the crux of metabolic syndrome. Obesity affects insulin production and usage, which leads to high blood sugar.
- Coronary heart disease- This condition is often seen in conjunction with high cholesterol, as cholesterol can contribute to plaques clogging the arteries. But the extra weight associated with obesity can make the heart work harder and puts a strain on the heart and the blood vessels.
- Stroke- Similar to how obesity affects the blood vessels to the heart, people with obesity are at higher risk of stroke if blood vessels to the brain become clogged.
- Gallbladder disease- A diet high in sugar and fat can contribute to the overproduction of cholesterol by the liver, which can lead to gallstones.
- Breathing difficulty- The extra adipose tissue padding the abdominal cavity can reduce the space needed for the internal organs. When the lungs have a reduced amount of space available to adequately inflate, breathing difficulties can result.
- Sleep apnea- Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for sleep apnea as the extra weight can lead to breathing problems during sleep. Also, people of normal weight who have untreated sleep breathing disorders may gain weight as a result leading to a complicated association of weight and breathing. But, weight loss often results in improvement in breathing during sleep.
- High Blood Pressure- Obesity affects the kidneys in several ways, including through increased pressure within the abdomen and structural and mechanical changes in the kidney itself that result in hypertension.
- Several cancers- According to the CDC, at least 13 different type of cancers are more common if a person has obesity.
While prevention of obesity and overweight is thought to be the best option, weight loss is encouraged if obesity is present. For so many people, weight loss is not easy. Many have tried everything from diet and exercise, to medication, to nutritionists without success. If you have tried to lose weight unsuccessfully, bariatric surgery may be an option for you. If you are obese or overweight and it’s affecting your health, you could be a candidate for gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, or lap band surgery. To schedule a free informational session with Dr. Shillingford, MD, PA, call (561) 483-8840 today. Dr. Shillingford is a board certified surgeon specializing in weight loss surgery. His gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and gastric band surgery patients receive top notch care at Northwest Medical Center’s Center of Excellence in Bariatric Surgery, and at their follow up appointments in his Boca Raton office.