Nine Medical complications of Obesity

Jun 20, 2017,



Obesity is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. A crude population measure of obesity is the body mass index (BMI), a person’s weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of his or her height (in meters). A person with a BMI of 30 or more is generally considered obese. A person with a BMI equal to or more than 25 is considered overweight. However, being overweight may also be due to increased muscle bulk (body builders, sport men), and large bone density (tall people).

Other parameters used to measure obesity include percentage of body fat, waist circumference, waist/hip ratio.

Key facts

  • Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980
  • In 2014, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older, were overweight. Of these over 600 million were obese
  • 39% of adults aged 18 years and over were overweight in 2014, and 13% were obese
  • Most of the world's population live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight
  • 41 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2014
  • Obesity is preventable


If you are obese, losing even 5 to 10 percent of your weight can delay or prevent some of the associated chronic diseases. For example, that means losing 10 to 20 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds.

Causes of Overweight and Obesity


 Obesity result from an energy imbalance. The body needs a certain amount of energy (calories) from food to keep up basic life functions. Body weight tends to remain the same when the number of calories eaten equals the number of calories the body uses or “burns.” Over time, when people eat and drink more calories than they burn, the energy balance tips toward weight gain, overweight, and obesity. Many factors can lead to energy imbalance and weight gain. They include genes, eating habits, how and where people live, attitudes and emotions, life habits (like inactivity and sedentary lifestyle), and income.


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Although children are in their growing stage and need a lot of growth and energy nutrient, they need to balance their energy too. The incidence of childhood obesity has been on the increase as we now see more physically inactive children (and adults) who spend hours watching TV and playing video games while snacking on processed foods and sugar beverages.

Obesity can be associated with several symptoms that interfere with daily activities and may eventually pose serious problems, these include:



  1. - Breathlessness
  2. - Increased sweating
  3. - Snoring
  4. - Difficulty doing physical activity
  5. - often feeling very tired
  6. - Joint and back pain
  7. - Low confidence and self-esteem
  8. - Feeling isolated


Medical complications of obesity

Being obese can also increase your risk of developing many potentially serious health conditions, including:



* Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus – a metabolic condition in which there is high sugar in the blood because of a defective or deficient insulin.

* High blood pressure – a leading cause of mortality worldwide

* Atherosclerosis and Coronary Artery Disease – these are problems with blood vessels carrying blood to the heart, thereby causing heart disease and heart attack.

* Metabolic syndrome – a combination of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity

* Cancers – Obese people are at risk of several cancers including breast and bowel cancers.

* Osteoarthritis – wear and tear of the weight-bearing joints over the years resulting in joint problems later in life.

* Infertility issues – Obese people may have problems achieving conception on time.

* Obstructive Sleep Apnoea – a condition that causes interrupted breathing during sleep, which can lead to daytime sleepiness with an increased risk of road traffic accidents, as well as a greater risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease

* Mental Health issues – Obese people may worry about their physical appearance and often have low self-esteem. Being obese can also affect your relationships with family and friends, and may lead to depression.



Obesity reduces life expectancy by an average of 3 to 10 years, depending on how severe it is. It's estimated that obesity and being overweight contribute to at least 1 in every 13 deaths in Europe.



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