Obesity-Related Diseases

Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes

More than 80 percent of people with Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, are obese or overweight. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III shows that two-thirds of adult men and women in the U.S. diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes have a body mass index (BMI) of 27 or greater, which is classified as overweight and unhealthy.

Type 2 diabetes develops when either the body does not produce enough insulin in the blood or cells ignore the insulin produced. As obesity diminishes insulin’s ability to control blood sugar, there is an increased risk of developing diabetes because the body begins overproducing insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. Over time, the body is no longer able to keep blood sugar levels in the normal range.

Eventually the inability to achieve healthy blood sugar balance results in the development of Type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, obesity complicates the management and treatment of Type 2 diabetes by increasing insulin resistance and glucose intolerance, which makes drug treatment for the disease less effective.

Obesity and Heart Disease

Overweight and obese people have an increased incidence of heart disease, and thus fall victim to heart attack, congestive heart failure, sudden cardiac death, angina, and abnormal heart rhythm more often than those that maintain a healthy body mass index.

Obesity often increases the risk of heart disease because of its negative effect on blood lipid levels, which increase in obese patients and then, in turn, increase triglyceride levels and decrease high-density lipoprotein – which is also known as HDL or “good cholesterol.”

People with an excessive amount of body fat have higher levels of triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein – which is also known as LDL or “bad cholesterol” – as well as lower levels of HDL cholesterol in the blood. This recipe creates optimal conditions for developing heart disease.

Obesity and Hypertension

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps out blood. Hypertension,or high blood pressure, greatly raises your risk of heart attack, stroke or kidney failure.

Being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing high blood pressure. In fact, blood pressure rises as body weight increases. Losing even 10 pounds can lower blood pressure—and losing weight has the biggest effect on those who are overweight and already have hypertension. 

 

Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome

Obesity adversely impacts existing endocrine and metabolic disorders. In fact, one out of every five overweight people is affected by the metabolic syndrome, or “Syndrome X26.”

Metabolic syndrome is one of the fastest growing obesity-related health concerns in the United States and is characterized by a cluster of health problems including obesity, hypertension, abnormal lipid levels, and high blood sugar.

Patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), Cushing’s syndrome and other conditions have an increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the metabolic syndrome affects almost one quarter (22 percent) of the American population – an estimated 47 million people. The assemblage of problems characterized as comprising the metabolic syndrome can increase a patient’s risk for developing more serious health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Obesity and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

The majority of patients diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the most common hormonal disorder in reproductive-age women, are either overweight or obese35.

The syndrome is associated with an accumulation of incompletely developed follicles in the ovaries and is characterized by irregular menstrual cycles, multiple ovarian cysts, and excessive hair growth. PCOS is a leading cause of infertility and is a significant cause of insulin resistance – and thereby a major factor in increasing a woman’s risk of developing diabetes.

Overweight adolescent girls are also susceptible to developing PCOS. Hyperinsulinemia – or excessive insulin in the blood – insulin resistance, and being overweight are all associated with PCOS in adolescents. Common characteristics among post-pubertal adolescents and adults with PCOS include excessive hair growth, irregular menses and cystic or non-cystic acne.

Obesity and Reproduction/Sexuality

Obesity in men has been associated with reproductive hormonal abnormalities, sexual dysfunction, and infertility. In women without polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), obesity also compromises reproductive outcomes.

Obesity and Dyslipidemia

Obesity has a negative effect on lipid levels in the blood, which often lead to the development of a condition known as dyslipidemia. Dyslipidemia, a primary risk factor for coronary artery disease, occurs when LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and triglyceride levels are high and HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) is low. Physicians often attribute this abnormal shift in lipid levels to weight gain. Losing weight, conversely, has an opposite effect. Weight loss of about 20 pounds has been shown to: (LINK: ANY RELEVANT STUDIES OR STATISTICS)

  • Reduce LDL levels by 15 percent.
  • Reduce triglyceride levels by 30 percent.
  • Increase HDL by eight percent.
  • Reduce total cholesterol levels by 10 percent.
  • Obesity and Thyroid Conditions

Childhood Obesity 

Obesity in childhood continues to grow in prevalence among adolescents in the United States. In some states, obesity is found in nearly forty percents of children. It is estimated that one-third of children born in 2000 will develop obesity-related diabetes, half of which will be in the Latino and African American communities.

Childhood obesity causes liver, lung, heart and musculoskeletal complications as well as psychological ones. Grass root efforts at changing urban planning, legislation, and school practices need to be employed to help stem the tide of obesity. Lifestyle change is the most effective treatment, but the hardest to implement. As a result of higher childhood obesity rates, more and more adolescents are subjecting themselves to gastric banding.

Obesity and Thyroid Conditions

Thyroid hormones drive metabolism, which is why it is often assumed that there is a direct link between obesity and the thyroid gland. It is true that individuals with an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism or thyrotoxicosis) typically will lose weight, and those with underactive thyroids (hypothyroidism) will tend to gain weight, but a direct or strong correlation of obesity with deficient thyroid function is uncertain as the medical literature provides conflicting conclusions.

In some studies, thyroid function is perfectly normal in obese individuals compared to normal weight controls, while other studies show a clearly higher frequency of mild (“subclinical”) to moderate hypothyroidism in obese children and adults. Additional studies will be required to illuminate the relationships between the brain-thyroid axis, the metabolic syndrome, thyroid dysfunction, and obesity.