Obesity has been associated with a host of chronic diseases, accounting for over 4 million deaths globally every year. Let me bring this to perspective. As of the writing of this post, February 2021 (14 months since the start of the COVID 19 pandemic), there have been almost 2.6 million deaths from COVID 19. We took drastic measures against COVID 19, disrupting lives and businesses. But are not even bothered about the bigger pandemic that has been staring us in the eye. We need to ditch the fat.
You don’t have to be part of this statistic. More people are overweight (BMI 25 to <30) or obese (BMI 30 and above) these days. It’s so common that being overweight is now seen as normal and being normal weight (BMI 18.5 to <25) is seen as skinny. Below are some reasons to get rid of that notion and lose weight. To know where you fall, click here to use a free BMI calculator. I will try not to be too technical. References are at the bottom of the page.
Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease in the world and obesity is suggested to be the main modifiable risk factor. You probably know one person that has it or maybe you do. It commonly affects the knee but can also occur in other joints. It causes so much pain in the affected joints and affects the quality of life.
Obesity causes excess weight on the joints leading to wear and tear on those joints. Abnormal lipids (fats and cholesterol) in obese individuals can also aggravate inflammation in the joints as it does in the blood vessels.
Obesity can make rheumatoid arthritis worse and also increases the risk of another kind of inflammatory joint disease called gout.
2. Back Pain:
Being overweight is not just a risk factor for low-back but also for sciatica, lumbar disc degeneration, and disc herniation. This is due to the combination of the hefty load, high cholesterol, and inflammation associated with being overweight and obese.
Low back pain is so common people see it as a normal part of life. I’ve had my fair share of low back pain moving around with hot water bottles. In all those times, it never once occurred to me my weight could be the cause.
3. Blood Pressure (High):
Excess visceral fat (fat around the internal organs) and abdominal fat can physically compress the kidneys. This increased pressure can squeeze sodium back into the bloodstream increasing blood pressure. The combination of obesity and hypertension can have disastrous health consequences.
The good news is losing just a few pounds can help take the pressure off. Check out Best Way To Lose Weight Without Going Crazy. Losing weight has been described as a vital strategy to controlling hypertension.
Most people are not aware of the link between obesity and cancer. Excess body fat raises the risk of most cancers including breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, invasive penis cancer, kidney cancer, esophageal cancer, stomach cancer, colorectal cancer, liver cancer, gall bladder cancer, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer, bone marrow cancer, and multiple myeloma.
This could be due to the chronic inflammation of Obesity, the excessively high insulin in obese people as a result of insulin resistance, or the excess estrogen produced by the fat cells. Obese women have twice as much estrogen in their blood as normal-weight women. Higher circulating estrogen is associated with an increased risk of developing and dying from breast cancer.
When people lose weight, their overall cancer risk goes down.
Obesity is the most important single risk factor for the development of Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputation, and adult-onset blindness.
Unfortunately, most of the drugs used to treat diabetes cause further weight gain creating a vicious cycle. Using lifestyle to correct the underlying problem is cheaper, safer, and more effective. Check out Best Way To Lose Weight Without Going Crazy.
Encephalopathy means brain disease. There is consistent data linking obesity in mid-life to the development of dementia later in life. Overweight individuals have about a third higher risk, and those obese in mid-life have about a 90% greater risk of being demented.
In a study (link below), obese participants showed broad impairments in the executive functions of the brain. These include working memory, tasks primarily utilizing inhibition, cognitive flexibility, decision-making, verbal fluency, and planning. Overweight participants only showed significant deficits in inhibition and working memory.
Another study shows evidence of brain grey matter atrophy across all ages among those carrying excess fat. This reduced brain volume is correlated with reduced executive function. Mental capacity across a variety of domains can be significantly improved with even modest weight loss.
Weight loss has been shown to increase fertility among infertile men and women. The heavier a man is, the higher the risk of having low sperm count or being completely sterile. There’s an enzyme in body fat that converts testosterone into estrogen.
Losing weight can raise testosterone levels to normal or near-normal levels in men. Excess weight can also lead to the penis being buried among the fat leading to a condition called hidden/inconspicuous penis.
Cholesterol gallstones account for 80-90% of all gallstones found. This is when excess cholesterol crystallizes in the gall bladder. Obesity increases the risk of gallstone by up to seven times and even twice the risk in those at the higher side of normal BMI.
That’s one of the many reasons I don’t really agree with the 25 mark BMI for normal weight. The upper limit of normal should be about 23 and an optimal BMI – between 18.5 and 21.
Fiber-rich food consumption as in a whole food plant-based diet reduces the risk of developing gallstones.
9. Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (Acid Reflux/Heart Burn):
Fiber rich food consumption as in a whole food plant based diet also reduces the risk of acid reflux. The excess abdominal pressure due to obesity can push acid from the stomach up into the throat causing heart burn and inflammation.
This increased pressure on the abdominal organs associated with obesity may also explain why overweight and obese women suffer more vaginal prolapse. This is when organs such as the rectum and bladder push out into the vaginal cavity.
10. Heart Disease:
Of the 4 million deaths attributed to excess body weight every year around the world, nearly 70% of those deaths are due to Cardio Vascular Disease. Losing weight among obese and overweight individuals has been shown to result in fewer fatal heart attacks and stroke.
Natural Killer Cells are the immune system’s first-line defense against malignant cells as well as many viral infections. And their function is severely impaired in individuals with obesity. Losing weight in obese individuals leads to a reactivation of Natural Killer Cell functionality
12. Kidney Disease:
A high BMI is one of the strongest risk factors for new-onset chronic kidney disease. This is because the kidneys have to work extra hard to deal with the extra workload due to the increased body weight. Losing weight to a normal range BMI reduces the workload.
13. Liver Disease:
Obesity increases the risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Over 80% of people with central obesity may have fatty infiltration into their liver. This can lead to inflammation, scarring, cirrhosis and ultimately liver cancer.
This does not mean you’ll definitely have all these diseases if you are overweight or obese. It means your chances of having them are higher. If you now have genes for any of the diseases it makes the chances of developing them way higher. But there’s a solution. You can ditch the fat this year and reduce your risk.
And the joy of having a slimmer body is on another level. Being a girl that used to be obese (my BMI was 35.4), you can trust me when I say it’s worth the effort. Read Best Way To Lose Weight Without Going Crazy and let’s get down to business.