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​Obesity-Related Health Conditions

Common Conditions Associated with Obesity

Obesity-related health conditions can significantly reduce life expectancy. Below are some of the common conditions associated with obesity. Your doctor can provide you with a more detailed list.

Type 2 Diabetes

Obesity often causes the body to develop resistance to insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels. Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage the body.

High Blood Pressure and Heart Disease

Excess body weight strains the heart's ability to function properly. This strain can lead to high blood pressure (also known as hypertension), which can cause strokes and significant heart and kidney damage.

Osteoarthritis of Weight-Bearing Joints

Obesity leads to rapid wear and tear of the joints, particularly knees and hips, causing pain and increased inflammation. Similarly, obesity strains the bones and muscles of the back, resulting in disk problems, pain and decreased mobility.

Sleep Apnea and Respiratory Problems

Fat deposits in the tongue and neck can cause intermittent obstruction of the airway while sleeping. Lying on your back can exacerbate this problem and lead to frequent waking during the night. The loss of sleep often results in daytime drowsiness and headaches.

Gastroesophageal Reflux and Heartburn

Acid belongs in the stomach and seldom causes any problem when it stays there. But when acid escapes into the esophagus through a weak or overloaded valve at the top of the stomach, the result is gastroesophageal reflux. Heartburn and acid indigestion are common symptoms. Approximately 10-15 percent of patients with even mild sporadic symptoms of heartburn will develop a condition called Barrett's esophagus, which is a pre-malignant change in the lining of the esophagus, a cause of esophageal cancer.

Depression

While we all experience sadness from time to time, depression refers to feelings of apathy, hopelessness or fatigue for a sustained period. Depression is a serious illness that can negatively affect mood, sleep and appetite and can also exacerbate other health conditions such as heart disease. People who are obese are likely to suffer from depression. In fact, the Obesity Action Coalition reports that obese individuals have a 20 percent higher risk of developing depression than those who are not obese.

Infertility and Incontinence

Morbidly obese women often experience disruptions in their menstrual cycle that can make it difficult to conceive. Obese women who do become pregnant may experience urinary incontinence. A large, heavy abdomen and relaxation of the pelvic muscles can weaken the valve on the bladder, leading to leakage of urine when coughing, sneezing or laughing.