How does obesity affect the body?

Obesity affects the body by adding too much weight for your frame, or skeleton, and putting you at risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and more.

Wendy Batts
Fitness Specialist

Obesity greatly increases the risk for multiple health problems including:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Dyslipidemia (for example, high total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides)
  • Stroke
  • Liver and Gallbladder disease
  • Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
  • Osteoarthritis (a degeneration of cartilage and its underlying bone within a joint)
  • Gynecological problems (abnormal menses, infertility)

Obesity is defined as a BMI over 30, check the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) BMI calculator at for more information.

You can also learn more from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at

Obesity creates surplus body fat when you consume more calories than you can burn in a given day. This taxes all of the organs and daily bodily processes. It can create troubled breathing, sleep problems, and joint and back pain. Obesity can also result in complications like high cholesterol and blood pressure, organ problems and cancer, and depression.

Dominique Adair
Fitness Specialist

Obesity is defined by many specialists as a body mass index of 30 or above (for easy calculation of your BMI, go to the CDC's website:

How obesity affects your health depends on many variables, including your health history, your age, whether you are male or female, where you carry your body fat (i.e. stomach or hip area) and how physically active you are. If you are obese, you are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides (which increase your risk for heart disease and stroke), sleep apnea, joint discomfort and malfunction, among other conditions. If you lose weight your risk for these conditions is reduced.

Much of recent research on obesity has concentrated on its inflammatory contribution. In particular, obesity is often accompanied by excess fat storage in tissues other than fat tissue, including liver and skeletal muscle, which may stimulate inflammation which can cause and aggravate a large number of diseases.

Approximately 65 percent of U.S. adults are currently overweight or obese. Obesity is now considered one of the major preventable causes of illness and death in the United States. Being overweight or obese increases your risk for developing chronic health conditions such as coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, breathing problems, depression, certain cancers, joint pain and orthopaedic injuries.

The good news is that becoming obese is preventable, and even reversible. As a nation, Americans have become extremely unhealthy due to the poor lifestyle choices we make on a daily basis. Approximately 54 percent of Americans are not regularly active, and 15 percent get absolutely no physical activity at all. In addition, many Americans eat meals that could feed an entire family of four!

It is time to turn the poor health of America around. We need to make a conscious effort each day to be physically active, to choose more nutritious foods and watch our portion sizes. In other words, eat less, move more and enjoy a much healthier and improved quality of life.

Dr. Susan S. Blum, MD
Preventive Medicine Specialist

Fat cells create inflammatory molecules called cytokines that travel through the body and create inflammation in all the other cells and tissues. Inflammation in the brain can affect your memory and increase your risk of Alzheimers. Inflammation also affects your blood sugar system and increases your risk of diabetes, and it effects your blood vessels and cholesterol and increases your risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.

It ages you and causes inflammation that results in wrinkles, decreased quality of orgasms, type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, memory loss, breast cancer and prostate cancer, and altered body image, to mention only a few effects. Obesity occurs when your waist is more than one-half your height, or your BMI is greater than 30. A high percentage of illnesses presented in doctors’ offices and hospitals have their origins in obesity.

Joel Harper - Elite Trainer
Fitness Specialist

1) Reduced life expectancy 2) Increased likelihood of numerous diseases: type 2 diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea and various types of cancer, to name a few. The list goes on and on. Let's focus on how to evaporate those excess pounds. Try some of the free videos we have for you on my profile page.

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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.