Obesity Affects Your Entire Body
Severe obesity causes damage to nearly every system in the body, including our joints and organs. These secondary conditions are what make morbid obesity a disease within itself.
One key thing to note, however, is that many of these risk factors, disease processes and damaging consequences can be stopped or even reversed with significant weight loss.
Obesity increases your risk of developing type II diabetes by 400%. Over time, diabetes increases your risk of infection, heart disease, kidney failure, nerve damage, eye complications and foot problems.
Obesity leads to a 300% increased risk of heart disease, and a 200% increased risk of high blood pressure. These conditions can lead to heart attack, angina (chest pain), arrhythmias (irregular heart beat) and stroke.
Obesity leads to high cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. Increased fat in the blood can lead to blockages of arteries and vascular damage, further increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease – like heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease (PAD).
Obesity can lead to two major breathing problems: obstructive sleep apnea and hypoventilation syndrome.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the more common of the two, and can increase your risk for heart disease, stroke and even death. It can also keep you from feeling rested, even after a full night’s sleep.
Hypoventilation is the less common, but more serious, risk. It is a restrictive lung disease caused by increased pressure on the thoracic cage, and can lead to pulmonary hypertension and heart failure.
Obesity is strongly linked to GERD (gastroesophogeal reflux disease), which occurs when stomach acid or bile flows back into the tube connecting your mouth to your stomach (esophagus). Over time, this can cause a pre-cancerous condition called Barrett’s esophagus, which can significantly increase your risk of esophageal cancer.
GERD is more than an uncomfortable and persistent problem: it can be life-threatening if left unresolved.
Obesity can lead to decreased blood circulation in your legs, and can put you at risk for blood clots and pulmonary embolisms, which can be fatal. Venous insufficiency can also result in swelling and discomfort in the legs on a day-to-day basis.
Obesity is linked to an increased risk for developing colon, breast, endometrial, kidney or esophageal cancer. Mortality rates are also 50-60% higher in cancer patients with morbid obesity when compared to those at a healthy weight. These risks have been shown to normalize with weight loss.
Cartilage is the soft tissue that “cushions” your joints. Because obesity increases the amount of stress placed on your knees, hips and ankles, this cartilage is more likely to breakdown, resulting in “bone-on-bone” damage. This condition is extremely uncomfortable and can be debilitating, making everyday tasks feel impossible.
Weight loss can improve this condition, and it may also allow individuals who were previously ineligible to undergo joint replacement surgery if recommended.
Obesity can contribute to infertility, irregular periods and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). These issues are almost always reversed with weight loss.
Obesity causes increased abdominal pressure, which can lead to the involuntarily leakage of urine, particularly when laughing, sneezing or exercising. This condition is more common in women; while it’s not life-threatening, it can be embarrassing or overwhelming at times.
Obesity can lead to build up of fat inside the liver. It often doesn’t cause any noticeable or immediate symptoms, but if left untreated, it can lead to liver damage and fatal liver failure.
This condition, also known as pseudotumor cerebri, can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, ringing in the ears and fatigue. In some cases, it can even lead to vision loss. This disease almost exclusively effects young, overweight women, and can resolve with weight loss.
Nearly 25% of individuals struggling with obesity have faced depression at some point in their lives. In these cases, successful, long-term weight loss has been associated with an improvement in mental health and overall quality of life.
In addition to the previously mentioned diseases and conditions, a variety of other medical problems and ailments, such as migraines, hypothyroidism, gout, sexual dysfunction, IBS and chronic skin infections have been shown improve significantly with weight loss.