People whose lives are sedentary and who do not lead healthy lifestyles by eating right and exercising are more prone to contracting diseases that are related to weight. Obesity is a global hazard and has been associated with common and chronic diseases such as hypertension, heart disease, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, and diabetes.
Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death among men and women, alike, in the United States. Obesity has a significant influence on cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease, especially among those who are of a younger age group. The heavier a person is the more likely they are to develop some form of heart disease. With obesity there is a reduction in HDL (good cholesterol) and an increase in LDL (bad cholesterol). It is believed by scientists that HDL removes excess cholesterol from the arteries and helps to protect against heart attacks. LDL has a propensity to build up inside the walls of the arteries that nourish the heart and forms a thick, hard plaque that makes the arteries rigid. If an artery becomes to narrow or blocked it can lead to a heart attack or even a stroke. Another type of fat that is found in the blood or plasma is triglycerides. Your body uses this type of fat as an energy source. An increase in triglycerides can raise your risk for heart disease.
One of the most acute effects of obesity on cardiovascular health is hypertension. Science has shown a link between hypertension (high blood pressure) and body weight. Blood pressure changes occur simultaneously with weight changes. When there is an increase in weight there is also an increase in blood pressure. The same is true for lower weight. As one loses weight their blood pressure will decrease as well. It is believed that the excess fat tissue in obese people secretes a hormone that is acted on by the kidneys. The result is a chronic disease of the kidneys that is thought to be the leading cause of hypertension in those who are overweight.
Although the correlation between sleep apnea and obesity is still being studied it has been shown that over 90% of those who suffer from sleep apnea are also overweight or obese. They generally have larger necks and tend to snore heavily due to some sort of obstruction in the throat, usually the tongue or tonsils. Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person stops breathing for longer than ten seconds while they are sleeping. This can lead to a dangerous drop in oxygen levels and can cause irregularities in heart rate. People who suffer from sleep apnea are also more prone to heart attacks and strokes.
Osteoarthritis is a disease of the joints. Its symptoms occur mainly in the neck, back, hips, hands, and knees. The most common form of osteoarthritis in those who are obese takes place in the knees. The heavier a person is the more stress there is placed on the knees. This extra pressure can accelerate the decomposition of the cartilage in the knee joints causing pain and affecting one’s ability to walk. The consumption of beverages that contain caffeine also has an impact on the joints as it pulls calcium and other important minerals out of the bones. People who are obese have a tendency to consume more caffeine than those who follow a healthier diet. They also tend to be more lethargic, less energetic, and don’t usually have a daily exercise routine. Exercises that employ the use of the joints without putting too much pressure on them are good in helping to maintain the cartilage that is already there.
Those who are overweight or obese are at an increased risk for developing diabetes, in particular Type II Diabetes where insulin therapy is generally used as a form of treatment. Their blood glucose levels tend to be higher because of excess fat, especially around the abdomen, that interferes with insulin production and its utilization in the body. Science has shown that an excess of abdominal fat creates an increase in insulin resistance. A study done at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that a hormone, called resistin, produced by fat cells provokes this resistance to insulin.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center
The Mayo Clinic: Medical Education and Research
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