We’ve all read or heard about the bad effects of obesity: heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. All this is very scary, but it doesn’t show the full picture. These are just the health effects of obesity which get a lot of mention in the news and media. There are plenty of other, less known, ways in which obesity affects you.
I believe that knowing more about the risks associated with obesity can be a powerful force that will motivate you to lose weight or maintain your current one. As you will see, there are some far from intuitive health risks associated with obesity that you should know about.
A number of studies found that obese people are more likely to suffer from severe injuries due to car accidents than people of normal weight. Some of the effects of obesity, such as sleep apnea, increase the risk of injuries, but it is the fact that cars are simply not designed with the obese person in mind that creates the bigger risk.
Cars are designed for people of average weight, so they are more protected when crashes occur. The safety features in the car, such as the airbag, the seats, and the seat belts may offer less protection for an obese person than they would a thin one.
Obesity has an adverse effect on fertility in a number of ways:
- It reduces the fertility of both men and women. In men, it is a leading cause of erectile dysfunction, while in women it makes conception harder.
- Obese women who undergo fertility treatments find it harder to conceive. In fact, losing weight will be much cheaper than going through rigorous treatments.
Obesity increases the risk of cancer in both men and women. In men, in raises the risk of colon and prostate cancer. In women, it raises the risk of breast, colon, gallbladder and uterine cancer. As you can see, obesity can be deadly and this isn’t limited to heart disease.
This is one of the scariest prospects that may await obese men and women: dementia and Alzheimer’s. Various studies have shown the link between obesity and dementia and if this doesn’t cause people to change their way, I don’t know what will.
In one of the studies I read, the subjects were identical twins, so their genetic makeup was the same. The conclusions clearly showed a greater risk of dementia for overweight and obese people.
It seems that obesity not only affects the person who is obese, but also this person’s children. In the case of obese mothers-to-be, it was found that there is a greater risk of autism or delayed development of the unborn child. For those mothers who are both obese and suffer from Type 2 Diabetes, the risk for their child is even greater.
There’s no doubt that obesity is not just a physical problem, but a mental one as well. I don’t mean that obese people are crazy, but that they are feel a lot of shame and anxiety. They may feel a great deal of loneliness. All this can create a lot of emotional strain which may be why a study conducted by the Center For Health Studies found that obesity is related to a 25% increase in mood and anxiety disorders. The bright side of the research found a 25% decrease of substance abuse among obese people. However, there is no doubt that obesity is also a mental challenge.
Being overweight or obese may lead to various joint problems. You’re simply placing more weight on your joints, so they are under a greater deal of stress and react accordingly. However, this is the first study I read which suggested that things can get as serious as fractures.
In obese patients under the age of 25, the risk of Weber C type ankle fractures was higher than among the regular population. As you can see, obesity can be very serious even at a young age.
Frequency of Migraines
Obesity is also connected to migraines, something which surprised me, as there seems to be no real connection between the two conditions. However, as a study in Neurology showed, excess weight has no bearing on the prevalence of migraines, meaning whether you suffer from them or not, but that your Body Mass Index (or weight) does influence it in other ways.
Obesity may increase the frequency and severity of migraines, so that those who do suffer from it may have it worse the heavier they are.
Lesser Effect of Flu Vaccine
An article in the New York Times discussed one of the most unpredictable health effects of obesity: a lesser effect of the flu vaccine. The study looked at 74 people who received a flu vaccine. The study followed these people and looked at how their immune system was responding to the vaccine. What was found is that obese people have a lower number of antibodies in their system in the months following the vaccine, leaving them more susceptible to the disease.
Obesity has also been linked to greater lower back, neck and shoulder pain. One study found that both men and women who are obese are about 20% more likely to suffer from these types of chronic pain. Anyone who has experienced such pain knows how debilitating they can be.
So, as you see, the adverse health effects of obesity are far reaching. This affects a person’s life in many different ways. It’s time that more of this information is made widely available and that greater effort is made to stop the obesity pandemic in its tracks.