Obesity is identified as one of the fastest-growing causes of death worldwide and the major reason for the onset of non-communicable diseases. Although hormonal disorders, endocrine disorders, and psychological disorders mainly lead to obesity, the major reasons for obesity endemic in the modern world stem from changes in lifestyle, lowered motivation for physical activity, poor eating, increased screen time, involvement in technologies like mobile phones, laptop, changes in nutrition style, desk jobs that involve sitting at a desk for long hours and an increase in calorie intake.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a person is considered to be overweight if his body mass index equals or is greater than 25 Kg/m2, and a person is considered to be obese if his body mass index is equal to or greater than 30 Kg/m2.
This article illustrates some of the major consequences on health posed by obesity and presses on the health benefits of maintaining a healthy weight.
IMPAIRED HEART HEALTH
Obesity is a well-established risk factor for the onset of cardiovascular disease.
In obese individuals, there is an excess accumulation of adipose tissue in the myocardium of the heart. This leads to structural and functional alteration of the heart.
The excess adipose tissue causes an increase in total blood volume which increases the risk of stroke and cardiac output.
In obese, excessive adipose tissue leads to increased secretion of adipokines (leptin), which induces insulin resistance and causes metabolic syndrome which predisposes to adverse cardiovascular effects.
Obese individuals require more oxygen and nutrients to their bodies, the extra weight puts more pressure on the blood vessels which causes an increase in blood pressure and a spike in triglycerides. The extra work that the heart does to pump blood causes the heart muscles to enlarge, which can result in left ventricular hypertrophy.
The increased adipose tissue contributes directly to an increase in systemic inflammation which causes endothelial damage and vascular hypertrophy.
The risk of infertility is several times higher in obese women than in non-obese women.
Insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia in obese women lead to hyperandrogenemia.
The excess fat in obese women aggravates polycystic ovarian syndrome and may cause hypothalamic hypogonadism (a condition where the male testes or the female ovaries produce little or no sex hormones).
The decrease in sex hormone-binding globulin, and insulin-like growth factor-binding proteins leads to impaired neuroregulation of hypothalamic-pituitary axis and impaired ovulatory function.
The excess fat cells in obese women make estrogen (this is in addition to what ovaries make). Excessive estrogen will prevent obese women from ovulating and increase the chances of menstrual dysfunction.
Increased leptin levels in obese men significantly decrease levels of testosterone. Hypotestosteronaemia results in impaired spermatogenesis.
The raised gonadal heat in obese men that results from scrotal adiposity results in altered sperm production will lead to reduced sperm motility, increased sperm DNA damage, and increased sperm oxidative stress.
The higher fat deposition in reproductive organs causes low libido and low fertility.
The obesity epidemic has been paralleled in modern society by the incidence of reduced sleep duration.
Obesity predisposes to obstructive sleep apnea, a condition in which a person may go for a period of several seconds without breathing while sleeping.
The extra fat mass accumulation in the neck and chest area can cause the airway to become blocked, leading to snoring and pausing in breathing.
When this happens, the brain sends a message to the body to wake up and breathe, which causes several interruptions in sleep throughout the course of the sleep cycle.
Obesity has been linked to an increased risk of restless leg syndrome. When breathing is disrupted, it leads your legs to twitch, and your body to release stress hormones and quickens the heartbeat to wake up. Your brain considers this as an emergency and tries to hold onto the fat stores instead of burning them.
Insufficient sleep increases the production of the hunger hormone, ghrelin which promotes hunger, resulting in increased energy intake.
The fragmented sleep contributes to the dysregulation of appetite, limits the drive for physical activity, and further compromise weight maintenance.
As per studies, individuals who have more peripheral fat distribution have more insulin sensitivity than individuals whose fat distribution is central. Body mass index has a strong connection to diabetes. The risk of diabetes is 93 times greater in individuals whose body mass index is 35 Kg/m2.
In obese individuals, proinflammatory markers that are involved in the development of insulin resistance are increased.
Accumulation of excess body fat leads to metabolic abnormalities and causes fat tissues to release fatty acids into the blood, which can affect insulin-responsive cells, reduce insulin sensitivity and cause the liver to shift towards greater oxidation of free fatty acids for energy production.
Insulin resistance leads to elevated fatty acids in the plasma, causing decreased glucose transport into the muscle cells and elevated glucose production.
The most significant impact of obesity on musculoskeletal system is associated with osteoarthritis, a type of arthritis that occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the joints wears down over time. Excessive joint loading increase friction and causes premature damage to the cartilage in weight-bearing joints like knees, hips, and ankles.
Adipose tissue produces inflammatory cytokines that can cause inflammation throughout the body, including the joints, cartilage, and synovium.
In obese people, walking, rising from a chair, and climbing stairs are compromised. Obese people try to compensate for instability by altering gait patterns and adopting different body transfer patterns to move the excessive weight. This leads to joint structural damage, making them feel more physically declined than healthy-weight people.
Practice healthy eating, engage in regular physical exercise, get optimal sleep, and aim for stress reduction to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.