Obesity is a major risk factor for serious medical conditions, including type 2 diabetes (diabetes mellitus), high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. In fact, it is estimated that obesity accounts for 85% of the total cost of treating type 2 diabetes and 45% of the cost of treating high blood pressure. The effects of obesity are similar to 20 years of aging.
- Heart Disease: Obese people tend to have elevated cholesterol – which leads to plaque buildup in the arteries. They are also twice as likely to have hypertension.
- Type 2 Diabetes: People with excess body fat often become resistant to insulin (it helps the body store glucose). The onset of diabetes occurs as a direct result of the rise in the glucose levels.
- Stroke: The risk of having a stroke is 2-4 times greater in people with type 2 diabetes, 90% of whom are overweight.
- Colon Cancer: Obese people are at greater risk of colon cancer as abdominal fat appears to increase risk more than fat elsewhere (which is why men have a higher risk).
- Osteoarthritis: Being overweight places additional strain on the spine, hip and knee joints. This causes a loss of cartilage; as cartilage deteriorates, joint space narrows and bones grind together. For every 2-pound increase in weight, the risk of developing arthritis is increased by 9-13%.
In addition, obese women are at greater risk of infertility, endometrial cancer and post-menopausal breast cancer. Childhood obesity is also increasing – 17% of the children age 6-19 are overweight and at risk for becoming obese adults, three times the rate reported in the 1970s. Children of two obese parents have an 80% to 90% chance of being obese.