How Excess Weight Affects Your Health

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How Excess Weight Affects You

A study published in the journal Circulation found that excessive weight is associated with an increased risk of cancer. In fact, obesity is a major risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, as it increases resistance to the hormone insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels. It can also lead to cardiovascular disease and elevated cholesterol, which increase the chances of heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure.

An excess of pounds can do more than just increase your weight. They also increase your risk for major health problems. Obese and overweight people are more likely to suffer from HEART DISEASES, STROKES DIABETES, CANCER, DEPRESSION, and HEART DISEASES. Extra weight can cause health problems in the short- and long-term for both you and your baby if you’re pregnant.

Losing weight can help reduce the risk of developing these conditions. This fact sheet explains more about the link between excess weight and various health conditions. This fact sheet explains how maintaining a healthy weight can help you and your family stay healthier as you age.

What can I do if I weigh too much?

It may seem small to gain a few extra pounds over the course of a year. These extra pounds can quickly add up. How do you know if your weight is increasing your risk of developing health problems? Two numbers can help you assess your risk. These are your body mass index (BMI), and your age.
Your waist measurement in inches

Body Mass Index
BMI can be used to determine if you are normal in weight, overweight, or obese. It calculates your weight relative to your height and assigns you a classification.

  • Normal Weight: BMI 18.5-24.9
  • Overweight: BMI between 25 and 29.9
  • Obesity: A BMI of 30 and higher

Waist Size
Your waist measurement in inches is another important number. Your health risk may be higher if you have more fat around your waist than in other areas of your body. Obesity may be more common in obese women and men who have a waist measurement of over 35 inches or more.

What health problems are associated with obesity and excess weight?

An excess weight can increase your risk of developing many health problems.

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Strokes and Heart Disease
  • Some types of cancer
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Pregnancy issues, such as high blood sugar and high blood pressure during pregnancy, and an increased risk of cesarean delivery (C section)



Type 2 diabetes refers to a condition in which blood sugar levels rise above normal. Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness, kidney disease and heart disease. Diabetes was the seventh leading cause for death in the United States in 2009.
Type 2 diabetes is the most prevalent type of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is largely influenced by genes and family history. Low activity, poor diet, and excessive waist circumference are all risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

What is the relationship between type 2 diabetes and overweight?

Over 87% of people with diabetes are obese or overweight.4 The hormone insulin may become more resistant to overweight people because their cells change. Insulin is responsible for transporting sugar from the blood to the cells where it can be used for energy. Insulin resistance is a condition that prevents blood sugar from being taken up by cells. The cells that make insulin have to work harder to maintain normal blood sugar levels. These cells may eventually fail.

What can you do to help with weight loss?

Losing weight can help you avoid or delay type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by losing weight and getting more exercise. You may be able to lower the dosage of diabetes medication by losing weight and exercising more.

How can weight loss prevent or delay diabetes?

To prevent type 2 diabetes, the National Institutes of Health sponsored a large clinical trial called the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). It looked at overweight adults and their options. The DPP showed that a modest loss of 5 to 7 percent of body weight, along with moderate exercise (like walking for 150 minutes per week) can prevent or delay the onset and progression of type 2 diabetes.

High blood pressure

Your heart pumps blood to your rest of the body every time it beats. Blood pressure refers to how hard your blood presses against your arteries. Although hypertension (high blood pressure) is not usually symptomatic, it can lead to serious health problems such as stroke and heart disease.
Normal blood pressure is 120/80mm Hg, also known as “120 over 80” High blood pressure is defined as a blood pressure that is constant 140 or higher (or 90 or more)

What is the relationship between high blood pressure and overweight?

In many ways, obesity and overweight are linked to high blood pressure. A large body mass can increase blood pressure as your heart pumps harder to deliver blood to your cells. Your kidneys are also susceptible to excess fat, which helps regulate blood pressure.

What can you do to help with weight loss?

High blood pressure can be reduced by losing weight that is within the normal BMI range. You can also quit smoking and reduce your salt intake. Get regular exercise. If lifestyle changes don’t work, your doctor might prescribe medication to lower blood pressure.

Heart Disease

Heart disease can be described as a combination of several conditions that could affect your heart. When a blood vessel carrying blood to the heart becomes narrow and hard, this is the most common problem. This can prevent the heart from receiving all the blood it requires. The heart’s ability to pump blood may also be affected by other conditions. Heart disease can lead to angina (chest pain), sudden cardiac death, heart attack, or abnormal heart rhythm. The leading cause of death in America is heart disease.

What is the relationship between overweight and heart disease?

Obese people are more likely to develop heart disease. High blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar are all possible health issues. Additionally, extra weight can cause heart problems that make it harder to pump blood to all cells.

What can you do to help with weight loss?

Your chances of developing heart disease may be reduced by losing 5-10% of your body weight. This means that you could lose as little as 10 lbs if your weight is 200. Weight loss can improve blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood flow.


A stroke is a blockage of blood flow to one part of the brain that causes brain cells to stop functioning. Ischemic stroke is the most common type. It occurs when blood clots block an artery that supplies blood to the brain. A hemorhagic stroke is another type of stroke that occurs when a blood vessel in a brain bursts.

What is the relationship between strokes and overweight?

Obesity and excess weight are known to raise blood pressure. High blood pressure is the most common cause of strokes. Your risk of having strokes is also increased if you are overweight.

What can you do to help with weight loss?

Maintaining a healthy blood pressure is one of the best things you can do in order to lower your stroke risk. Your blood pressure may be lower by losing weight. You may also see a decrease in cholesterol and blood sugar. This could lower your chances of suffering from stroke.


Cancer is when cancerous cells grow out of control in one area of the body such as the colon. Sometimes, cancerous cells spread to other parts the body such as the liver. The second leading cause for death in the United States is cancer.

What is the relationship between obesity and cancer?

Adult weight gain can increase the risk of several types of cancer, even if it doesn’t lead to obesity or overweight. It’s not known how excess weight can increase cancer risk. The release of hormones by fat cells could lead to cancerous cell growth. Being overweight can also increase your risk of developing cancer.

What can you do to help with weight loss?

Avoiding weight gain may prevent a rise in cancer risk. A healthy diet and regular exercise can help lower your cancer risk. Although studies are inconclusive, weight loss can also reduce your risk.

What types of cancers can be linked to obesity and overweight?

Overweight increases your risk of developing certain types of cancers.

After menopause,

  • breast
  • Colon, rectum
  • Endometrium (lining the uterus)
  • Gallbladder
  • Kidney

Sleep Apnea

A condition called sleep apnea, a person may experience one or more pauses during sleep. Sleep apnea can lead to daytime sleepiness, difficulty with focusing, or even heart failure.

What is the relationship between sleep apnea and overweight?

Obesity is the leading risk factor for sleep apnea. An overweight person may have more fat around their neck. This could make the airway smaller. This can cause breathing to become more difficult, or even stop for short periods of duration. Additionally, fat in the neck and elsewhere may cause inflammation. Sleep apnea can be caused by inflammation in the neck.

What can you do to help with weight loss?

Sleep apnea is usually improved by weight loss. Weight loss can help reduce neck size and inflammation.


Osteoarthritis, a common condition that causes stiffness and pain in the joints, is a very common problem. Osteoarthritis can be caused by aging or an injury. It most commonly affects the lower back, hips, knees, and hips.

What is the relationship between osteoarthritis and overweight?

Obesity, joint injury, old age and genetic factors are all risk factors for osteoarthritis. Additional weight can put extra pressure on the joints and cartilage (the tough but slippery tissue that covers your bones at each joint) which could cause them to wear out. People with higher body fat may also have higher levels of substances that can cause inflammation. An inflammation of the joints can increase your risk for developing osteoarthritis.

What can you do to help with weight loss?

Obese or overweight people may be at greater risk for developing osteoarthritis by losing weight. A weight loss of 5 percent or less of your body weight can reduce stress on your knees and hips as well as your lower back. It may also help to decrease inflammation. Losing weight can help with osteoarthritis. Exercise is one of the best ways to treat osteoarthritis, according to research. Exercise can improve mood and flexibility, as well as decrease pain.

Fatty Liver Disease

Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, also known by fatty liver disease (NASH), is a condition in which fat builds up and causes liver injury. Fatty liver disease can cause severe liver damage, liver cirrhosis (scar tissue), and even liver failure. Fatty liver disease can cause mild to no symptoms. This is similar to alcoholic liver disease but is not caused by alcohol. It can also occur in those who consume little or none alcohol.

What is the relationship between fatty liver disease and overweight?

Fatigued liver disease remains a mystery. Most people with fatty liver disease are middle-aged, obese or overweight, and/or suffer from diabetes. Children may also be affected by fatty liver disease.

What can you do to help with weight loss?

There is no cure for fatty liver disease. Patients are advised to lose weight and increase their physical activity. They should also avoid alcohol. Lowering your body weight to a healthy level may help to reverse fatty liver disease.

NASH Clinical Research Network

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases finances the NASH Clinical Research Network. It includes eight clinical centers in the United States and a coordination center at The Johns Hopkins University. The NASH network conducts clinical research on prevention and treatment and studies the nature and underlying causes of NASH.

Kidney Disease

Two kidneys, with a bean-shaped shape, filter blood and remove excess water and other waste products. This is what makes your urine. Your kidneys help maintain a healthy body by controlling blood pressure. The kidney disease is when the kidneys become damaged and are unable to filter blood as they should. This can lead to waste accumulation in the body. This can lead to other health problems.

What is the relationship between kidney disease and overweight?

High blood pressure and diabetes are the two most common causes for chronic kidney disease. Obesity can increase the risk of developing it. Recent research suggests that obesity may increase chronic kidney disease risk and accelerate its progression, even if these risks are not present.

What can you do to help with weight loss?

Losing weight can slow down the progression of chronic kidney disease. Also, you should eat foods that are lower in sodium (sodium), control your blood pressure and maintain a healthy blood sugar level.

Pregnancy Problems

Obesity and excess weight can increase the chance of pregnancy-related health problems. Obese or overweight pregnant women may be at greater risk of developing gestational diabetes (high sugar levels during pregnancy), preeclampsia, (high blood pressure during pregnancy which can cause serious problems for mother and baby) and needing to have a C-section. Babies born to overweight or obese mothers are more likely to be stillborn (dead in utero after 20 weeks) and to have neural tube defects (defects in the brain and spinal chord).

What are the possible links between overweight and pregnancy?

Overweight pregnant women are more likely to have high blood pressure, insulin resistance, high blood glucose, and blood sugar levels. Anesthesia and surgery are more risky if you’re overweight. Severe obesity can also increase the time required to perform surgery and lead to increased blood loss.
Both mother and baby can suffer from long-term weight gain during pregnancy. These can include the possibility that the mother may become obese or overweight after the birth of the child. The baby could gain weight as an adult or as a child later in life.
For general guidance on weight gain if you’re pregnant, see the sidebar. Talk to your doctor about the right amount of weight gain for you during pregnancy.

What can you do to help with weight loss?

Talk to your doctor if you’re overweight or obese and want to get pregnant. Being at a healthy weight before you become pregnant can reduce the likelihood of having weight-related issues. Women who are obese or overweight should consult their doctor about ways to limit weight gain and how to be physically active during pregnancy.
Women may be able to reduce their risk of developing diabetes by losing weight after giving birth. If a woman has gestational diabetes, losing weight can help lower the risk of her developing it later in life.

How much weight should I gain during pregnancy

The following weight gain is recommended by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine in 2009.

Weight Gains in Pre-pregnancy

  • Underweight (BMI < 18.5) 28-40 lbs.
  • Normal weight (BMI 18.5 – 24.9) 25-35 lbs.
  • Overweight (BMI 25 – 29.9) 15-25 lbs.
  • Obesity (BMI – 30+) 11-20 lbs.

Longevity and weight

Obesity can make it difficult to get around. People who are overweight or obese have more difficulty walking quarter-miles, lifting 10 pounds and getting up from a chair. Experts speculate that the burden of these problems is greater than it was in years past. This could be because obese people live longer.

Because excess weight can lead to so many deadly and common diseases, being overweight or obese can take years off your life. The New England Journal of Medicine studied more than half a billion 50- to 70-year-olds over a 10-year period and found that overweight people had a 20% to 40% increase in their death rates. The death rate among obese people was twice to three times higher.
The same journal published a 2010 study that gathered the findings of 19 studies that followed almost 1.5 million white adults aged 19 to 84 for the same period. It found that death risk increased with body weight, with the result being 44% higher in mildly obese individuals and 250% higher for those with BMIs between 40 and 50.
Feel better and lose weight
You can lose as little as 5 percent of your bodyweight if you’re overweight. This could lower your risk of developing many diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other conditions. This means that you will lose 10 pounds if your body weight is 200. A steady, gradual weight loss of 1/2 to 2-pound per week and no more than 3 pounds per semaine is the best way to lose weight.

Being able to lose excess weight can improve your physical and emotional health and help you live longer and healthier lives. It is encouraging to know that you don’t need to lose a lot of weight in order to be healthier. A modest weight loss of 5-10% of your initial weight can have significant health benefits.

Some examples:

A modest loss of 10 pounds by people with high blood pressure over six months resulted in a reduction of their systolic bloodpressure by 2.8mm Hg and diastolic by 2.5mm Hg. These blood pressure reductions were comparable to those achieved by some blood pressure medication.
I Weight loss is so effective, many people with high blood pressure can stop taking bloodpressure medicine once they have lost weight.
A study that looked at people at high risk of type 2 diabetes found that those who lost 7% of their body weight and exercised for 30 minutes per day reduced their chances of developing it.

How can I reduce my chance of developing health problems due to obesity and overweight?

You can lose as little as 5 percent of your bodyweight if you’re overweight. This could lower your risk of developing many diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other conditions. This means that you will lose 10 pounds if your body weight is 200. A steady, gradual weight loss of 1/2 to 2-pound per week and no more than 3-pounds per week is the best way to lose weight.

According to federal guidelines, you should be getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week (e.g. biking or walking). You may need to exercise for as much as 300 minutes per week to lose weight or maintain it. At least two times per week, you should engage in activities that strengthen your muscles (such as push-ups and sit-ups).

Many tips and tricks for healthy eating are recommended by federal dietary guidelines. These tips can help you to control your weight. Here are some examples:

  • Make half your plate fruits or vegetables.
  • Replace refined grains such as white bread, pasta, and white rice with whole-grain alternatives (whole wheat breads, brown rices, oatmeal).
  • eat lean protein sources such as fish, lean meats, legumes and peas, and nuts and seeds.



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