What is Obesity?
Obesity is the excessive accumulation of fat that exceeds the body's skeletal and physical standards.
Facts on Obesity
- According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an increase in 20 percent or more above your ideal body weight is the point at which excess weight becomes a health risk.
- Today 97 million Americans, more than one-third of the adult population, are overweight or obese.
- An estimated 5 to 10 million of those are considered morbidly obese, which means they weigh approximately 100 lbs above their ideal body weight.
How Does Obesity Harm My Health?
Obesity-related health conditions, whether alone or in combination, can significantly reduce your life expectancy. Some of the common conditions resulting from obesity include:
Depression. Seriously overweight people face constant challenges to their emotions - repeated failure with dieting, disapproval from family and friends and sneers and remarks from strangers. They often experience discrimination at work, cannot fit comfortably in theatre seats or ride in a bus or plane.
Gastroesophageal Reflux/Heartburn. Acid belongs in the stomach and rarely causes any problem when it stays there. When acid escapes into the esophagus through a weak or overloaded valve at the top of the stomach, the result is called gastroesophageal reflux. "Heartburn" and acid indigestion are common symptoms.
Approximately 10 to 15 percent of patients with even mild symptoms of heartburn will develop a condition called Barrett's esophagus - a pre-malignant change in the lining membrane of the esophagus that can cause esophageal cancer.
High Blood Pressure/Heart Disease. Excess body weight strains the ability of the heart to function properly. The resulting hypertension (high blood pressure) can result in strokes, as well as cause significant heart and kidney damage.
Infertility. Obesity can result in difficulty - or even inability - of having children.
Menstrual Irregularities. Morbidly obese individuals often experience disruptions of the menstrual cycle, including interruption of the menstrual cycle, abnormal menstrual flow and increased pain associated with the menstrual cycle.
Osteoarthritis of Weight-Bearing Joints. The additional weight placed on joints, particularly knees and hips, results in rapid wear and tear, along with pain caused by inflammation. Bones and back muscles are constantly strained, resulting in disk problems, pain and decreased mobility.
Sleep Apnea/Respiratory Problems. Fat deposits in the tongue and neck can obstruct the air passage. Because the obstruction is increased when sleeping on your back, you may find yourself waking frequently to reposition yourself. This loss of sleep often results in daytime drowsiness and headaches.
Type 2 Diabetes. Obese individuals develop a resistance to insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels. Over time, the resulting high blood sugar can cause serious damage to the body.
Urinary Stress Incontinence. A large, heavy abdomen and relaxation of the pelvic muscles, especially associated with the effects of childbirth, may cause the valve on the urinary bladder to be weakened. This can lead to urine leakage when coughing, sneezing or laughing.
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March 23: Free Health Fair and Community Open HouseJoin us from 9:00 am to noon at the Newton-Wellesley Ambulatory Care Center for health screenings, physician Q&As, special guests and more.
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