Obesity is a complex disease involving an excessive amount of body fat. Obesity isn’t just a cosmetic concern. It’s a medical problem that increases the risk of other diseases and health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and certain cancers.
There are many reasons why some people have difficulty losing weight. Usually, obesity results from inherited, physiological and environmental factors, combined with diet, physical activity and exercise choices.
The good news is that even modest weight loss can improve or prevent the health problems associated with obesity. A healthier diet, increased physical activity and behavior changes can help you lose weight. Prescription medications and weight-loss procedures are additional options for treating obesity.
Obesity can occur at any age, even in young children. But as you age, hormonal changes and a less active lifestyle increase your risk of obesity. In addition, the amount of muscle in your body tends to decrease with age. Generally, lower muscle mass leads to a decrease in metabolism. These changes also reduce calorie needs and can make it harder to keep off excess weight. If you don’t consciously control what you eat and become more physically active as you age, you’ll likely gain weight.
- Heart disease and strokes: Obesity makes you more likely to have high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels, which are risk factors for heart disease and strokes.
- Type 2 diabetes: Obesity can affect the way the body uses insulin to control blood sugar levels. This raises the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes.
- Certain cancers: Obesity may increase the risk of cancer of the uterus, cervix, endometrium, ovary, breast, colon, rectum, esophagus, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidney and prostate.
- Digestive problems: Obesity increases the likelihood of developing heartburn, gallbladder disease and liver problems.
- Sleep apnea: People with obesity are more likely to have sleep apnea, a potentially serious disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep.
- Osteoarthritis: Obesity increases the stress placed on weight-bearing joints, in addition to promoting inflammation within the body. These factors may lead to complications such as osteoarthritis.
- Severe COVID-19 symptoms: Obesity increases the risk of developing severe symptoms if you become infected with the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). People who have severe cases of may require treatment in intensive care units or even mechanical assistance to breathe.