O is for Obesity

November 3, 2012

Obesity is the biggest public health challenges facing society. It has huge impacts on the feet, especially in children. The Body Mass Index or BMI is often used as a tool to screen for obesity.


Obesity can have a wide range of consequences on both physical and mental health:

  1. Increased risk of chronic diseases: Obesity is a significant risk factor for various chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke), hypertension (high blood pressure), certain types of cancer (such as breast, colorectal, and kidney cancer), and respiratory disorders (such as sleep apnea and asthma). The excess weight puts strain on the body’s organs and systems, leading to increased susceptibility to these conditions.
  2. Cardiovascular problems: Obesity can lead to atherosclerosis (the build-up of plaque in the arteries), which restricts blood flow and increases the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. High levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, high blood pressure, and insulin resistance are commonly associated with obesity and contribute to cardiovascular problems.
  3. Diabetes and metabolic syndrome: Obesity is strongly linked to the development of type 2 diabetes. Excess weight and body fat can lead to insulin resistance, where the body’s cells become less responsive to insulin. This can result in high blood sugar levels and eventually progress to diabetes. Obesity is also a major risk factor for metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol levels, and excess abdominal fat.
  4. Joint problems: The excess weight carried by obese individuals puts increased stress on the joints, particularly the knees and hips. This can lead to conditions such as osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease characterized by pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility.
  5. Respiratory issues: Obesity is associated with a higher risk of respiratory problems, including obstructive sleep apnea, a condition where breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep. Obesity-related hypoventilation syndrome (OHS) and asthma can also occur.
  6. Increased cancer risk: Obesity is linked to an increased risk of several types of cancer, including breast, colorectal, endometrial, kidney, pancreatic, and liver cancer. The underlying mechanisms are not fully understood, but factors such as chronic inflammation, insulin resistance, and hormonal changes may contribute to the development of cancer.
  7. Psychological and social effects: Obesity can impact mental health and quality of life. Individuals with obesity may face stigmatization, discrimination, and low self-esteem, leading to depression, anxiety, and social isolation. Body image dissatisfaction and challenges with daily activities can also occur.
  8. Reduced fertility: Obesity can affect fertility in both men and women. In women, it can lead to hormonal imbalances, irregular menstrual cycles, and difficulties conceiving. In men, obesity can result in lower testosterone levels and reduced sperm quality.


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