Obesity has proven negative effects on health. Each year there are an estimated 300,000 obesity-related premature deaths in the US. From snoring to sleep apnea, high blood pressure to heart disease, obesity has far-ranging ill effects. For most overweight people, losing the first 5-10% of body weight can dramatically improve overall health. Health benefits of losing weight are associated with:
- Diabetes – Obesity is a major cause of type 2 diabetes. Even moderate obesity dramatically increases the risk of this disease. This type of diabetes usually begins in adulthood but, is now actually occurring in children. Losing weight will both a) reduce a person’s risk of developing diabetes or b) help a diabetic manage their blood sugar levels effectively which is one of their treatment goals.
- Heart disease – carrying excess weight not only puts extra strain on the heart, but atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) is more common in obese people compared to those who are not obese. Fatty deposits can build up in blood vessels which reduces the blood flow to vital organs. Losing weight to a healthy level is associated with decreased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
- Cancer – In women, the risk of developing various cancers (including breast, colon, gallbladder, and uterine) is greater in overweight individuals. Men who are overweight have a higher risk of prostate and colon cancers. Weight loss reduces the risk of developing these various cancers.
- Joint problems – there is extra strain on hip and knee joints in obese people which can result in pain, discomfort and conditions like osteoarthritis. Losing weight not only reduces the likelihood of these conditions but also, should corrective surgery be required, non-obese people have better outcomes from surgery than obese people.
- Reduction in blood pressure – obesity can lead to high blood pressure which is often referred to as a silent disease since there may not be any obvious symptoms. However, over the long term, high blood pressure can damage the kidneys, heart and blood vessels. Even a reduction of 5-10 lbs. of weight can have a positive effect on lowering high blood pressure.
- Sleep apnea – Sleep apnea is when people stop breathing for brief periods of time while they sleep thus interrupting their sleeping pattern. This problem is more common in obese people and so losing weight can reduce the negative effects of this condition, namely, sleepiness during the day and heavy snoring.