Obesity has a wide and growing prevalence among the global population. Statistics say that more than 135 million people in India are obese and the condition has become one of India’s major public health concerns. The excessive amount of fat accumulation associated with obesity can be harmful for the overall function of the body. Obesity increases the risk of getting cardiovascular ailments (heart disease and high blood pressure), metabolic diseases like diabetes and various other conditions.
A recent study, published in PLOS Medicine, examined the duration of obesity in relation to a number of cardiometabolic disease risk factors. It concluded that cardiometabolic disease risk factors worsen with an increase in the obesity period. The study collected data from 20,746 participants aged between 10 and 40 years. The cardiometabolic disease risk factors such as high blood pressure, low good cholesterol levels and high glycated hemoglobin (blood sugar) measurements were considered against the obesity duration.
The study results suggested that there is a strong association between blood sugar and obesity duration. It stated that a 5% higher HbA1c (value for blood sugar) was seen in the individuals who were obese for less than five years as compared to those with zero years of obesity. Similarly, about 20% higher HbA1c values were noted in people with 20 to 30 years of obesity in comparison to the non-obese individuals. Other cardiometabolic disease risk factors such as high blood pressure (systolic and diastolic) and low levels of good cholesterol (HDL) were also found to be associated with the obesity duration.
Cardiometabolic diseases aren’t the only concern; obesity can lead to many other health complications as well. Here are some other medical conditions that obesity could lead to:
1. Certain cancers
Some cancers are related to overweight and obesity. Researchers believe that excess weight may cause hormonal (insulin, estrogen and other sex hormones) and immunity-related changes that can, in turn, lead to inflammation and disrupt cell growth. These and other associated changes in the body can increase the risk of cancer. Colon, uterine, rectal, ovarian, cervical, thyroid, liver, kidney and postmenopausal breast cancer are commonly related to obesity.
2. Infertility in women
Excess adipose (fat) tissues in the body can give rise to several endocrine or hormonal disorders such as hypothyroidism, PCOS and insulin resistance, which can cause fertility-related problems in women. Over the years, researchers have found a direct link between obesity (BMI over 30) and negative fertility outcomes.
3. Erectile dysfunction
Men who are obese may suffer from sexual health problems as well. Over time, obesity can cause inflammation, damage to your blood vessels and a decrease in your testosterone levels. All of this combined could lead to erectile dysfunction. Several studies consider obesity to be one of the inevitable risk factors for erectile dysfunction.
4. Chronic joint pain
Research claims that obesity is one of the primary risk factors for joint pain. Long-term obesity or overweight can cause osteoarthritis of the knee, hip and wrist pain. However, the possible link between obesity and joint pain could be complex and it is said that a rise in adipokines (adipose tissue secretions) increases inflammation, causing pain in the joints. Women are more prone to it than men.
Obesity is usually a preventable condition with a few lifestyle modifications. Preventive steps can significantly control the severity of obesity and other health conditions related to obesity.
For more information, read our article on Obesity.
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