What is Obesity
Morbid Obesity
Childhood Obesity
Adult Obesity
Related Conditions
Obesity Stigmas
Causes of Obesity
Obesity in America
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Causes and Risk Factors of Obesity

Until recently, obesity was considered the result of a sedentary lifestyle and the chronic ingestion of excess calories. This may be the principal factor for many individuals, but there is evidence of strong genetic, metabolic, and environmental influences in the development of obesity. Certain illnesses, such as Cushings syndrome or hypothyroidism, and medications, such as glucocorticoids, can also cause obesity. However, less than one percent of all obese patients have an identifiable secondary cause of obesity.


The Health Consequences of Obesity

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancer (endometrial, breast, and colon)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Dyslipidemia (high total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides)
  • Stroke
  • Liver and gallbladder disease
  • Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
  • Osteoarthritis (degeneration of cartilage and underlying bone within a joint)
  • Gynecological problems (abnormal menses, infertility)


Health risks associated with obesity

  • Bone and cartilage degeneration (Osteoarthritis)
    Obesity is an important risk factor for osteoarthritis in most joints, especially at the knee joint (the most important site for osteoarthritis). Obesity confers a nine times increased risk in knee joint osteoarthritis in women. Osteoarthritis risk is also linked to obesity for other joints. A recent study indicated that obesity is a strong determinant of thumb base osteoarthritis in both sexes. Data suggest that metabolic and mechanical factors mediate the effects of obesity on joints (University of Bristol).
  • Coronary heart disease
    Obesity carries a penalty of an associated adverse cardiovascular risk profile. Largely as a consequence of this, it is associated with an excess occurrence of cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality. (Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Tennessee)
  • Gallbladder disease
    Being overweight is a significant risk factor for gallstones. In such cases, the liver over-produces cholesterol, which is then delivered into the bile causing it to become supersaturated. Some evidence suggests that specific dietary factors (saturated fats and refined sugars) are the primary culprit in these cases (University of Maryland Medical Center)
  • High blood pressure (Hypertension)
    There are multiple reasons why obesity causes hypertension, but it seems that excess adipose (fat) tissue secretes substances that are acted on by the kidneys, resulting in hypertension. Moreover, with obesity there are generally higher amounts of insulin produced. Excess insulin elevates blood pressure. (Weight.com)
  • High total cholesterol, high levels of triglycerides (Dyslipidemia)
    The primary dyslipidemia related to obesity is characterized by increased triglycerides, decreased HDL levels, and abnormal LDL composition. (Howard BV, Ruotolo G, Robbins DC.)
  • Respiratory problems
    Obesity can also cause respiratory problems. Breathing is difficult as the lungs are decreased in size and the chest wall becomes very heavy and difficult to lift. (Medical College of Wisconsin)
  • Several cancers
    In 2002, approximately 41,000 new cases of cancer in the USA were thought to be due to obesity. In other words, about 3.2% of all new cancers are linked to obesity (Polednak AP. Trends in incidence rates for obesity-associated cancers in the U.S. Cancer Detection and Prevention 2003; 27(6):415-421)
  • Sleep apnea
    Obesity has been found to be linked to sleep apnea. Also, weight reduction has been associated with comparable reductions in the severity of sleep apnea. (NHLBI)
  • Stroke
    Rising obesity rates have been linked to more strokes among women aged 35 to 54. (Medical News Today - "Stroke Increase And Obesity Linked Among Middle-Aged Women")
  • Type 2 diabetes
    One of the strongest risk factors for type 2 diabetes is obesity, and this is also one of the most modifiable as it can be partially controlled through diet and exercise. (Medical News Today - "Researchers Verify Link Between Type 2 Diabetes And Diet" )