4 Major Diseases Caused Or Complicated by Obesity

There are many diseases which are known to be caused or complicated by being overweight or obese. Type-2 (adult onset) diabetes, high blood pressure, certain cancers and osteoarthritis are four major diseases linked to obesity.

Type-2 diabetes

Type-2 diabetes used to be known as adult onset, or non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes. Type-2 diabetes tends to run in families and more common in people who are overweight or obese. The incident rate is increasing correlating with the increase in obesity in the population.

Type-2 diabetes is characterized by the body not making enough of the hormone insulin to control the blood sugar levels. Sometimes the cells in the body can also become “insulin resistant” to normal levels of the hormone resulting in higher levels of insulin being required.

This form of diabetes can be controlled through proper diet, physical exercise, and weight loss.

High blood pressure (hypertension)

Having high blood pressure is one of several ‘risk factors’ that can increase your chance of developing heart disease, a stroke, and other serious conditions. As a rule, the higher the blood pressure the greater the risk.

Blood pressure is a measure of the pressure of the blood against the arterial wall at the start of a heartbeat (systolic pressure) and end of the heartbeat (diastolic pressure). Blood pressure varies with time of day but if it remains consistently high over a period of time it is classified as “high blood pressure”, often called “hypertension”.

The risk of hypertension is 5 times higher in the obese as compared to those of normal weight and up to two-thirds of cases can be attributed to excess weight.

Treatment for hypertension includes a change in lifestyle risk factors where these can be improved i.e. losing weight, taking regular physical exercise, having a healthy diet, reducing alcohol consumption and stopping smoking.


Most people do not associate obesity with cancer and are often surprised by the connection. Often by time people are diagnosed with cancer they tend to be ill and thin, so the association with obesity is not made readily. However, experts have now concluded that there is now ample evidence that obesity increases the risk of cancers of the breast (postmenopausal), endometrium (the lining of the uterus), colon, kidney, and esophagus.

In 2002, about 41,000 new cases of cancer in the United States were estimated to be due to obesity. This means that about 3.2 percent of all new cancers are linked to obesity. A recent report estimated that, in the United States, 14 percent of deaths from cancer in men and 20 percent of deaths in women were due to obesity.


Osteoarthritis is a type of (degenerative) arthritis that’s caused by wear and tear of the joints. It makes your joints feel stiff and painful and commonly affects your hands, knees, hips and back.

You’re more likely to get osteoarthritis if you’re obese. Overweight women have nearly 4 times the risk of knee osteoarthritis, and for men the risk is 5 times greater. Being overweight increases the pressure on your joints, especially in your knees, ankles and lower back. This increases the stress within the joint can wear away the protective cartilage between the bone. Losing even a small amount of weight can ease the pressure on your joints, helping you to move around more freely and leading to a lower dependence on pain relieving medication.