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Understanding The Health Conditions And Diseases Associated With Obesity

Obesity is linked with multiple health issues. These can be chronic as well as acute health issues. Read here to know the different types.

Understanding The Health Conditions And Diseases Associated With Obesity

Obesity or being overweight increases the risk of chronic conditions


  1. Unhealthy diet and lifestyle may trigger the risk if obesity
  2. Some health conditions can put you at a risk of obesity
  3. Obesity increases the risk of severe health conditions

Obesity is a risk factor for multiple health problems. Obesity must be taken very seriously because it affects almost every organ in the body. Effects of obesity can be divided into metabolic and hormonal issues, bio-mechanical problems and organ specific diseases. In this article here are different health issues linked with obesity.

Health issues linked with obesity

1. Metabolic and hormonal co-morbidities- with increasing weight a person is at increased risk of developing insulin resistance and subsequently type-2 diabetes. Obesity and diabetes are twin diseases and are together known as 'diabesity'. Indians are genetically tuned to have a higher body fat percentage and hence tend to turn diabetic with even small increase in weight. It is noteworthy that Indians develop diabetes at lower weight, younger age, suffer longer and develop diabetes related complications early.

Obesity also predisposes individuals to cholesterol related issues and high blood pressure. All these diseases when clubbed together with obesity are called as 'metabolic syndrome'. In addition to this obesity may also lead to increased uric acid levels which may cause a very painful condition called 'gout'.

PCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome is another major issue in young women that can be attributed to obesity. PCOS and obesity form a vicious cycle with each leading to an increase in the other. If left untreated it leads to menstrual irregularities and may also be a cause of infertility in future.


Obesity increases the risk of PCOS in women
Photo Credit: iStock

2. Organ specific co-morbidities- Obesity tends to affect each and every organ of the human body. Obesity is the most common cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Today it has surpassed alcoholism as the most common cause for cirrhosis of liver. Obese individuals also suffer from breathing issues. As the weight increases, they experience increasing breathlessness and at higher weights even walking short distances can make them acutely breathless. They are also prone to developing obstructive sleep apnoea. Stroke and intra-cranial hypertension are also seen to occur secondary to obesity. It is needless to say that all these lead to an increase in the risk of heart disease. Obesity affects the kidneys adversely and is also associated with certain cancers like breast and uterine cancer in women and colon and pancreatic cancer in men.

Also read: Tips To Fight Childhood Obesity

3. Bio-mechanical co-morbidities- One of the biggest problems faced by individuals with obesity is related to mobility. Obesity puts a lot of pressure on weight bearing joints and over a period of time damages joints of the knee and back. We regularly see patients who need knee replacement even in their early 40's. As time passes by, this leads to loss of mobility and an increase in dependence on other family members even for routine things like getting a glass of water or going to the washroom.

4. Psycho-social problems- In younger patients, obesity is related to body-image issues. Depression and other psycho-social problems are commonly seen in individuals who suffer from obesity. Depression and weight gain are bi-directional in nature. Obesity leads to depression and depression may in turn lead to certain eating disorders as well as some anti-depressant medication can add to the weight.

Also read: Obesity And Overweight: Yoga Expert Explains Ways To Fight Obesity

Obesity is a serious condition and must be treated like any other disease. Prevention of weight gain must be the goal. However, if already suffering from obesity, one must consult a medically qualified weight loss specialist. Every disease responds in a better manner to treatment when treated early. Treatment delayed is treatment denied.

(Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker, Bariatric & Laparoscopic Surgeon, Saifee, Apollo Spectra, Namaha and Currae Hospitals, Mumbai)

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