The health risks

The health risks of obesity increase with its severity. Although being overweight is relatively harmless, being obese or morbidly obese can cause long term health risks and reduce overall life expectancy.Being obese increases the chance of developing:

  • Diabetes
    Having a large amount of excess body fat can cause a build up of sugar in your body. This can develop into diabetes, a condition where a person's body is unable to control their sugar levels. Diabetes is aserious health condition and can increase the risk of kidney failure and blindness.
  • High blood pressure
    High blood pressure is an increased pressure of the blood in the arteries. It is a major factor in heart failure.
  • Heart attacks
    Obese people have a high proportion of body fat, and more fat deposits in arteries to the heart. This increases the chance of having a stroke and heart attack.
  • Angina
    Being overweight contributes to angina which is a chest pain caused by decreased oxygen to the heart. Angina increases the chance of a heart attack and a stroke.
  • High cholesterol levels
    Eating too many saturated fats can raise the levels of 'bad' cholesterol in your blood. Too much cholesterol in your blood can damage your blood vessels and lead to heart disease or a stroke.

Other health risks include the development of:

  • Urinary incontinence
    Being overweight increases the pressure on the bladder and surrounding muscles. This weakens them and can allow urine to leak out when you cough or sneeze.
  • Infertility
    Obesity is linked with infertility in both men and women. It has been suggested obesity in women creates hormonal imbalances and disruption of menstrual cycles. Whereas in men it can result in lower levels of the hormone testosterone, a diminished sex drive and a reduced ability to produce sperm.
  • Osteoarthritis
    The extra weight that is carried on the body puts pressure on the joints, especially the knees, ankles and lower back. This can cause crippling pain even when walking.
  • Asthma or breathing disorders
    Obesity can lead to narrowing of the airway and therefore difficulty in breathing. Such difficulty could restrict normal physical activity such as walking up stairs.
  • Sleep apnoea
    Sleep apnoea is a very serious condition which can affect you when you are asleep. It is when you stop breathing during sleep, due to the weight of excess fat around the neck.
  • Cancer
    In both males and females, obesity increases the risk of developing cancer of the large intestine and the rectum. In females the risk of cancer of the breast, uterus, cervix and ovary is increased.

As well as the medical problems caused by being obese it can also be hugely detrimental to your level of self-esteem, motivation and body image.