Obesity Health RisksThe no diet diet
Common Health Risks Of ObesityNutrition and the science of health is in a constantly evolving state these days, and it often seems as if today's "new" study contradicts last week's equally "new" study! This makes it pretty hard to know what to believe. Fortunately, over the last few decades, a wide array of independent studies has tended to confirm some unvarying conclusions about the relationship between excess body fat and associated health risks.
The basic conclusion seems to be pretty certain that anyone who is considerably overweight is at higher risk for a number of potential health problems...some of which can be disastrous. Just a few of these are various forms of heart conditions, high blood pressure, diabetes, colon cancer, breast cancer, liver damage, gallstones and others.
But what exactly is "considerably overweight"?
While there's no static, ideal weight for any given individual, there are various factors that provide a healthy range. One measurement that is a good starting point is the Body Mass Index or BMI. To calculate it, just divide your weight (in kilograms) by your height (in meters) squared. The following table gives a rough classification:
For those who find themselves on the lower end of the BMI scale, health risks are no more (or at most only moderately higher) than for just about anyone. Genetic and other environmental factors will interact with any body fat or weight issues of course. For those nearer the higher range, there is strong evidence that health risks are indeed higher as well.
For example, abdominal obesity, i.e. having large fat deposits around the stomach and abdomen, is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and a condition called insulin resistance syndrome. For women, a waist circumference of 35 inches or more (40+ in men) is considred an indicator of abdominal obesity. Among other conditions, high blood pressure, high triglycerides and high cholesterol are all common factors associated with that condition.
Narrowing of the arteries, i.e. atherosclerosis, contributes to the possibility of the development of a clot which can cause a stroke. Excessive body fat is one factor known to be the villain which often produces that condition. At the same time, this excessive body fat can also play a part in increased blood pressure (hypertension).
Rapid weight gain, from 10-20 lbs for the average person, will increase the odds of developing Type 2 diabetes. Genetic factors are of course fundamental, but weight gain plays a role, according to most studies. When other factors are held constant, the risk is double that of an individual who has not had a weight gain.
Liver disease, apart from that associated with excessive alcohol consumption, can also be caused by insulin resistance. Again, that resistance is much more likely among those who are obese. There are many, many studies which have correlated BMI with the degree of liver damage. The higher the BMI, the greater the odds of liver trouble.
Gallstones are somewhat more likely to form in those who are obese, and may be correlated with a rapid rise in BMI. Sleep apnea (interruption of breathing during sleep) is another condition commonly linked to obesity.
In short, though no single study on this subject is definitive, and there are many genetic and other environmental elements to be considered on a case by case basis, excessive body fat is a substantial factor in health issues.
Being overweight is not merely an issue of acceptable appearance, it's a genuine health risk.
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Page Updated 3:50 PM Wednesday 9/2/2015