Obesity, the condition where there is a considerable increase in the body mass index, is now proving to be really deadly. Obesity is in fact, one of those preventable problems which are claiming lives in great numbers all over the world. Since excessive body weight is associated with many problems in almost all parts and systems of the body, an aggravated condition of obesity can make it even deadlier for the obese.
Obesity affects various systems in the human body when in an aggravated condition. Adverse effects of obesity can be seen in humans. The following are:
Since there is a direct link between the accumulation of fat in the body and the blood and heart systems, various problems can be created. High blood pressure is one of commonest problems, usually caused by obesity. High cholesterol and atherosclerosis (blockage of the arteries) are some other commonly seen problems in obese people. Also, due to inflammation of arteries, the blood supply to the heart may also be reduced thereby creating a greater risk of heart failure. In fact, more than 12% of congestive heart failure cases are caused due to obesity.
Endocrine and Reproductive Problems:
The presence of extra fat in the body also hampers the production of many hormones. This happens due to presence of cells which impair the production of some hormones. Since the abdominal fat present in the patient impairs the production of insulin digesting cells, it is said to cause Diabetes mellitus type 2. Also, other problems like polycystic ovarian syndrome, menstrual disorders, infertility, etc. are known to occur in the reproductive system. Even in pregnancy, complications may occur which may also lead to birth defects in the baby.
Medical researchers have not been able to pinpoint the exact cause of this finding but it has already been established that being obese increases the risk of cancer to a great extent, especially in women. Chances of developing colon cancer, including other types of cancers like breast cancer, oesophageal cancer, colorectal cancer, liver cancer, gall bladder cancer, etc are also found to be common in obese women. In addition, one can develop stomach, prostate gland, endometrial, ovarian or cancer of the cervix. Obese people need to take special care of their kidneys.
Neurological problems are not a direct effect of increased body fat. Since obesity can cause problems like hypertension and diabetes which reduce the blood flow to the heart and the brain, there are various problems that may occur. Strokes may also occur due to lower blood flow to the brain, potentially causing impairment. Due to improper functioning of the brain, other problems like dementia, headache, meralgia paresthetica (pain in outer thigh due to injury to nerve), carpal tunnel syndrome and idiopathic intracranial hypertension can also crop up.
Obesity can also cause a great stress on the human skeletal system. Since the bones and the skeletal frame have to bear far more body weight, it can be stressed out which causes problems like osteoarthritis. Lower back pain is also caused as an indirect effect of obesity, osteoarthritis and diabetes. Gout may also develop due to accumulation of uric acid in the joints, usually the big toe of the foot. This condition causes a great, unbearable pain.
Obesity causes the tissues to become soft and the muscle tone to become reduced around the airways, problems can arise in the respiratory system too, the commonest being obstructive sleep apnea. In addition, obesity hypoventilation syndrome is an extended form since the amount of oxygen reaching the lungs decreases. Asthma, another ailment can also occur because of obesity.
Obesity causes problems like gastro-oesophageal reflux disease in which there is heartburn due to a reflux that is caused by mucosal damage in the oesophagus. Fatty inflammation of the liver is also an outcome. In addition, formation of stones in the gall bladder and hernia can also occur in obese people.
Due to obesity, the development and the functioning of the genital organs can be affected to a great extent. Urinary incontinence, chronic renal failure with slow loss of kidney function, hypogonadism (improper functioning of sexual organs in males and females) and erectile dysfunction or impotence, can be caused as a result of obesity.
Obesity causes a lot of psychological problems in patients as they have to face a lot of social stigma due to their appearance. This can lead to depression and low self esteem. Body dysmorphic disorder or too much botheration about body parts also causes a lot of stress and social isolation. In some adverse cases of psychological pressures, people may even commit suicide.
Though not really fatal, obesity also causes various skin problems in the patients like stretch marks, Acanthosis (hyper-pigmentation of the skin in folds), Lymphedema or fluid retention in various body parts, including Cellulitis, carbuncle or intertrigo.
All these problems are a direct or indirect consequence of obesity. There are so many problems that can be caused some of which are reversible and some irreversible. Obesity, like any other disease must be handled with care and caution!