Can weight gain or being overweight lead to disease?

Marilyn Ricci, M.S., R.D.
Nutrition & Dietetics

Weight around the stomach is more likely to be a problem than overall weight. Weight around the stomach can be one sign of metabolic syndrome, which can lead to diabetes and heart disease. If male, your waist measurement should be less than 40 inches; if female less than 35 inches. 

Amy Jamieson-Petonic
Nutrition & Dietetics

Yes, being overweight is associated with heart disease, diabetes, as well as specific types of cancer. The reason for this has to do with the way additional fat tissue acts in the body. This fat tissue tends to be more metabolically active, and although that sounds like a good is not. Extra fat tends to increase the number of inflammation proteins in the body, and leads to a cascade of events that increase diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. 

Neal Spruce
Neal Spruce on behalf of dotFIT

Yes, there’s more at stake than just the way you look. Recent studies show that approximately 65 percent of Americans are overweight.  And, believe it or not, that’s the good news.  The bad news is that most of the other 35 percent are on their way (or were) to being overweight: nine out of 10 adults will be fat at some point in their lives. Weight gain is a huge problem (pun intended), and it’s not just because your clothes don’t fit. 

Weight-related illness rates are starting to exceed the rates of diseases from smoking or problem drinking. Type II diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and high cholesterol, to name a few, plus all of their complications. Hundreds of thousands of people a year die from weight-related illnesses, and health care spending for them has topped $115 billion a year. That’s money that comes out of state health budgets and health insurance companies, which increases costs to employers and taxpayers. No wonder more is coming out of your paycheck to cover health care costs these days! Many employers are now giving financial incentives for good health behaviors because healthier employees can contribute more to the company's bottom line.

The impact of these diseases also goes beyond the financial implications. For those who suffer from weight-related illnesses, or who are overweight and on their way to one or more disease states, quality of life is severely compromised.  So, what can you do about it?  If you’re overweight and at risk, your first action is to lose the weight.  It doesn’t matter how you do it.  Even if you don’t eat the ideal diet and exercise regularly, just get the weight off.  Even a 10 percent weight reduction can significantly improve your health. Once you’ve reached a healthier weight, you can start focusing on the finer points.  Start making it a lifestyle, so you’ll never see that weight again.  You’ll reduce your risk of serious disease, become happier, look great and your clothes will fit better. Using the Free Sharecare Fitness Application, you can set your weight loss goals and create the ideal program including individualized menus, proper calorie and protein requirements, meal timing, exercises that you choose and coaching/feedback all the way till you reach your goal . Click here for access:

Continue Learning about Obesity

The Insider’s Guide to Healthy Hawaii: How Obesity Affects Your Mental Health
The Insider’s Guide to Healthy Hawaii: How Obesity Affects Your Mental Health
Nearly 24 percent of Hawaii’s adults are obese, according to The State of Obesity, a report issued by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wo...
Read More
How is obesity defined?
Marjorie Nolan CohnMarjorie Nolan Cohn
Obesity is a state of excess adipose tissue mass, or body fat. This condition usually translates int...
More Answers
What should I be aware of if I am overweight and need abdominal surgery?
Anthony L. Komaroff, MDAnthony L. Komaroff, MD
We all have a fair amount of fatty tissue in our abdominal cavities that surgeons must deal with...
More Answers
What Is Obesity?
What Is Obesity?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.