Categorized | Obesity

5 Signs that Obesity is Killing You

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Is Obesity in the United States an Epidemic ?


Obesity is a medical condition characterized by the accumulation of excess body fat. It can adversely affect your health and may even reduce your life expectancy. Medical conditions related to obesity include heart diseases, endocrine disorders, respiration problems, cancer and conditions that affect mobility.



Clinicians typically use factors such as the body mass index to define obesity. The BMI is a person’s weight divided by the square of that person’s height, and is typically measured in units of kilograms per square meter. Clinicians use the absolute BMI to measure obesity in adults, but use a relative value of the BMI to measure obesity in children. For example, the World Health Organization considers adults with a body mass greater than 30 kg/m^2 to be obese. Children with an index in the top five percent of their gender and age group may also be considered obese.

The WHO classifies a BMI of at least 30 kg/m^2 but less than 35 kg/m^2 as class I obesity. A reading of at least 35 but less than 40 is class II obesity and class III obesity is a BMI of at least 40.

Experts often subdivide class III obesity into further categories, such that a classification of at least 40 but less than 50 is morbid obesity and a BMI of at least 50 is super obesity.

The health of Asians is generally affected at a lower BMI than that of Caucasians, causing some Asian countries to use different standards than the WHO. For example, Japan, defines obesity as greater than 25, while China sets the threshold for obesity at 28.



Obesity is one of the leading causes of preventable death throughout the world. Health professionals view it as a serious health problem due to its increasing prevalence in most countries. A 2005 report in The Lancet concluded that obesity reduces a person’s life expectancy by about 6.5 years, on average. The study also concluded that obesity in the United States causes between 112,000 and 365,000 deaths each year.

A large-scale study published in a 2010 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine showed that non-smokers with a BMI between 20 and 25 kg/m^2 had the lowest mortality risk. The lowest risk for smokers was between 24 and 27. A 1995 study in the NEJM showed that women with an index greater than 32 had double the normal mortality rate.


Heart Disease

Obesity has a strong correlation with heart diseases such as myocardial infarction and angina. A 2002 report from the WHO showed that 21 percent of all ischemic heart disease can be attributed to obesity. A BMI above 30 kg/m^2 doubles your risk of heart failure, according to a 2002 study in the NEJM. The 2005 Lancet study on obesity showed that 85 percent the people with blood hypertension have a BMI above 25 kg/m^2. The risk of hypertension is five times higher in obese people, compared to those of normal body weight. Obesity also increases the risk of venous thromboembolism by a factor of 2.3, according to a study in a 2008 issue of Circulation.


Endocrine Disorders

Type II diabetes is also strongly linked to obesity. It is the cause of 64 percent of diabetes cases in men and 77 percent of diabetes cases in women, according to Clinical Obesity in Adults and Children, a study published in 2005. Polycystic ovarian syndrome is also associated with obesity and 60 percent of patients with PCOS in the United States have a BMI greater than 30 kg/m^2, according to The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Obesity increases estrogen production, which increases infertility rates for men and women. Excess estrogen reduces sperm production in men and impairs ovulation in women. A 2005 study on obesity estimated that six percent of infertility cases are caused by obesity. A 2008 study in Obesity Reviews also established a correlation between obesity and complications during pregnancy such as hemorrhaging, infections and increased care requirements for the infant.


Respiration Disorders

Respiration difficulties are also more common in obese patients due to the increased weight on the lungs and breathing passages. Obesity hypoventilation syndrome is a combination of hypoxia and obesity during sleep that only occurs in the obese by definition. Asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and obstructive sleep apnea are also respiratory problems that are commonly associated with obesity. A 2008 study published in Immunology and Allergy Clinics of North America theorized that some types of obesity cause asthma by inducing a systemic inflammatory state in the body.



Many types of cancer are more common in obese patients. A 2007 study in the British Medical Journal predicted that about five percent of all cancers are caused by obesity. The cancers that are most strongly associated with obesity are generally those that affect the female reproductive system and the digestive system.


These include the following:




Excess body weight can also cause conditions that reduce a person’s mobility. The Archives of Internal Medicine published a study in 2005 that showed men with a BMI between 30 and 35 units of kilograms per square meter had 2.3 times the risk of gout compared to men with a number between 21 and 23.
Subjects with a rating greater than 26.4 had six times the risk of osteoarthritis in the knees compared to subjects with an index below 23.4, according to a 1993 study in the Journal of Rheumatology.




About Ken Black

I am 55 years old, like to Golf, surf the Net, read Christian books and watch videos. I live in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. I am also an author and publisher on the Web. Visit my Google Plus page at Google

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