The health effects of being overweight

overweight female staring at clothing rack

How those extra kilogrammes can affect you in the long run

 We know that life can sometimes be very tough and that the pressures in today’s society are endless. It often happens that amidst a busy life, you pick up weight due to having little to no time to prepare meals, being reliant on help or take-outs or simply eating as a comforter.

Unfortunately, being overweight for a prolonged period of time can lead to various physical side effects. People living with obesity have higher chances of developing a range of serious medical issues. These health problems affect nearly every part of the body, including the brain, blood vessels, heart, liver, gallbladder, bones, and joints.

Here is how being overweight can affect your body:

Nervous system

Being overweight or having obesity greatly increases the risk of having a stroke, where blood stops flowing to your brain. Obesity can also have a profound effect on your mental health. This includes a higher risk of depression, poor self-esteem, and issues with body image.

Respiratory system

Fat stored around the neck can make your airway too small, which can make breathing difficult at night. This is called sleep apnea. Breathing may actually stop for short periods of time in people with sleep apnea. This is not only scary for you, but also for your partner, who will probably not know what to do.

Digestive system

Obesity has been associated with a higher risk of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD occurs when stomach acid leaks into the esophagus. This is painful and uncomfortable.

In addition, obesity increases the risk of developing gallstones. This is when bile builds up and hardens in the gallbladder. This may require surgery.

Fat can also build up around the liver and lead to liver damage, scar tissues, and even liver failure.

Cardiovascular and endocrine system

In people with obesity, the heart needs to work harder to pump blood around the body. This leads to high blood pressure or hypertension. High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke.

Obesity can also make the body’s cells resistant to insulin. Insulin is a hormone that carries sugar from your blood to your cells, where it’s used for energy. If you’re resistant to insulin, the sugar can’t be processed by your cells, resulting in high blood sugar. This increases your risk of getting type 2 Diabetes, a condition where your blood sugar is too high. Type 2 Diabetes is linked to a range of other health issues, including heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, amputation, and even blindness.

High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar on top of excess body fat can make the blood vessels that carry blood to the heart become hard and narrow. Hardened arteries, also called atherosclerosis, can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Diabetes and high blood pressure are also common causes of chronic kidney disease.

Reproductive system

Obesity can make it more difficult for a woman to get pregnant. It can also increase a woman’s risk of having serious complications during pregnancy.

Skeletal and muscular systems

Obesity can cause deteriorating bone density and muscle mass. This is referred to as Osteosarcopenic obesity. Osteosarcopenic obesity can lead to a higher risk of fractures, physical disability, insulin resistance, and poorer overall health outcomes.

Extra weight can also put too much pressure on the joints, leading to pain and stiffness.

Integumentary (skin) system

Rashes can occur where the skin of body fat folds. A condition known as acanthosis nigricans can also occur. Acanthosis nigricans is characterized by discoloration and thickening of the skin in the folds and creases of your body.

Other effects on the body

Obesity has been linked with an increased risk of many different types of cancers, including endometrial, liver, kidney, cervical, colon, esophageal, and pancreatic cancer, among others. As your body mass index (BMI) increases, so does your risk of developing cancer.

In short…

Obesity and being overweight affects nearly every part of your body. If you’re living with obesity, you can treat or manage many of these risk factors with a combination of diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes. Slender Wonder has been helping South Africans lose weight and lead healthier lives for over twenty years. Read more about some of our success stories here.

Losing even 5 to 10 % of your current weight can reduce your risk of developing these health issues. Talk to an accredited Slender Wonder doctor about losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle today.



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