Most people who make a New Year’s resolution to whittle their waistline do so to fit into a pair of jeans or look good in a bathing suit. But there are many health reasons to drop some pounds.
"Most people know that being overweight or obese can lead to a greater chance of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, but there are other health issues that can stem from carrying too much weight," says Jennifer Hubert, DO, an internal medicine physician at St. Joseph Health Medical Group. Among them:
- A recent study from Neurobiology of Aging suggests that too much extra weight in middle age can lead to premature aging of the brain.
- Obesity may increase the likelihood of several types of cancer, such as in the stomach, gallbladder, liver, pancreas, ovaries and thyroid.
- A recent study suggested an increased risk for endometrial, breast and kidney cancers in women the longer they were overweight or obese. "The findings about obesity and cancer are quite serious, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that cancer was gaining ground on heart disease as the leading cause of death in America," Dr. Hubert says.
- Too much weight can put stress on the body's joints, which could lead to osteoarthritis in the knees, lower back and hips.
- It can be hard to breathe at a heavier weight--in fact, this problem has its own name, obesity hypoventilation syndrome. "The danger with this is that the body isn't getting enough oxygen and at the same time can't expel all the carbon dioxide during exhalation," Dr. Hubert says. "Another type of breathing problem people who are obese may encounter is sleep apnea, when fat near the neck constricts airway passages."
- People with extra weight may develop gallstones or have an enlarged gallbladder.
- Obesity may hamper certain aspects of health care. "Some types of scanning machines have a maximum weight they can handle, so if a patient's weight is over that limit, they may not have access to these machines, which in turn can make it harder to get a diagnosis," Dr. Hubert says. "Also, dosing for such things as anesthesia and certain drugs needs to be carefully calibrated, as recommended doses may be based on people of leaner weight."
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.