How Does Overweight and Obesity Affect Health?

There are many studies linking overweight and obesity to a negative impact on health in  all body systems and organs. This blog post provides a listing of some of the negative effects  to our health and is not meant to deal in depth with any of these conditions. 

Below are listed negative health conditions associated with overweight and obesity by  body system. Sometimes the condition(s) listed below triggers the overweight and obesity.  Other times the overweight and obesity cause or aggravate the condition. Some conditions  may be listed under more than one system due to the mode of expression of the condition. An  example would be inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.  These are autoimmune conditions but are also conditions of the gastrointestinal system. Again,  this is not an exhaustive list. There are ongoing studies on the many ways our weight impacts  our health.  

A person may have one or more of these conditions that can be improved or reversed  when he/she embarks on lifestyle modifications and weight loss. The good news is that even  small changes such as a weight loss of 5 percent of body weight can improve and sometimes  reverse any one of these conditions! 

Nervous System (Brain, Spinal Cord, Nerves) 

  • Alzheimer’s and other dementias 
  • Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus 
  • Psychiatric and behavioral conditions such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, eating  disorders, ADHD, OCD, and neuroses 

Cardiovascular System (Heart and Arterial/Venous System) 

  • Heart attacks, arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms) such as a-fib, cardiomyopathies, heart  failure 
  • Hyperlipidemia, hypercoagulability 
  • Hypertension, stroke 
  • Varicose veins, leg edema, stasis dermatitis 
  • Claudication (poor blood circulation to legs causing leg pain while walking) 

Respiratory System (Lungs) 

  • Breathing difficulties, respiratory failure 
  • Pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary fibrosis 
  • Asthma, COPD, emphysema 

Ocular System (Eyes) 

  • Cataracts 

Endocrine System (Hormones produced by the Pituitary, Thyroid, Pancreas, Adrenals, Ovaries,  Testes) 

  • Diabetes, Cushing Syndrome, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Addison’s Disease • Pancreatitis 
  • Ovarian and Testicular Dysfunction and Failure 

Gastrointestinal System (Esophagus, Stomach, Small Intestine, Large Intestine, Liver,  Pancreas, Gall Bladder) 

  • Acid reflux 
  • Chronic hiccups 
  • Barret’s esophagus
  • Gallstones 
  • Liver diseases – fatty liver, non-alcoholic fatty liver, cirrhosis 
  • pancreatitis 
  • Constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) 
  • Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis 

Musculoskeletal (Muscles, Tendons, Ligaments, Bones, and Joints and their Connective  Tissues) 

  • Osteoarthritis, curvature of the spine, and other bone conditions 
  • Tendonitis due to stress on the tendons from excess weight or body mal-alignments • Sarcopenia (muscle loss), weakness, balance issues 

Reproductive System (Male and Female Sex Organs) 

  • Menstrual problems, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome 
  • Low testosterone 
  • Infertility – male and female 
  • Sexual dysfunction 
  • Chronic vaginal yeast infections 

Urinary System (Kidneys, Bladder, and Urethra) 

  • Incontinence 
  • Frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs) 
  • Kidney stones 
  • Renal (kidney) failure 

Integumentary System (Skin and Connective Tissues) 

  • Acanthosis nigricans (darkened, velvety pigmentation of skin) 
  • Stasis dermatitis, skin tags, and skin irritations such as intertrigo (irritation in areas of skin  folds such as under the breast, arm pits, groin, and buttocks) 
  • Striae (stretch marks), varicose veins, spider nevi 
  • Xanthelasmas, gouty tophi (uric acid deposits under the skin) 
  • Leg edema compartment syndrome (painful edema trapped in the legs due to poor venous  return) 
  • Eczema, psoriasis 
  • Skin infections such as cellulitis, tinea (fungal/yeast) infections 

Autoimmune System and Cancer 

  • Inflammation that can trigger metabolic derangements, atherosclerosis, coronary artery  disease, gut dysbiosis, autoimmunity and more 
  • Autoimmune conditions such as Graves Disease, Hashimoto’s, Sjogren’s Syndrome,  Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis, and many more • Cancers – breast, thyroid, cervix, uterus, esophagus, pancreas, colon, kidney, prostate,  leukemia, and possibly others 

Metabolic System (Hormones and Enzymes that maintain metabolism) 

  • Gout, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, metabolic syndrome, kidney stones, Addison’s Disease,  Cushing Syndrome, and many more 

Microbiome (Gut Bacteria and other Microbes) 

  • Loss of beneficial bacteria leading to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), gut  dysbiosis, gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, leaky gut syndrome, acid reflux, weight  gain, and many more

Feel free to schedule an appointment with me to evaluate how overweight or obesity may be having an impact on your health and ways that we can mitigate and minimize the negative health effects. You may click on “meet and greet” for a free 15 minute consultation  or use one of the other options for a medical evaluation.

Margie C. Sweeney, MD, OFS, CPC, Dipl ABOM

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