health conditions that, whether alone or in combination, can significantly
reduce your life expectancy. A partial list of some of the more common
conditions follows. Your doctor can provide you with a more detailed
and complete list:
Type 2 Diabetes. Obese individuals develop a resistance to insulin,
which regulates blood sugar levels. Over time, the resulting high blood
sugar can cause serious damage to the body.
High blood pressure/Heart disease. Excess body weight strains
the ability of the heart to function properly. The resulting hypertension
(high blood pressure) can result in strokes, as well as inflict significant
heart and kidney damage.
Osteoarthritis of weight-bearing joints. The additional weight
placed on joints, particularly knees and hips, results in rapid wear
and tear, along with pain caused by inflammation. Similarly, bones and
muscles of the back are constantly strained, resulting in disk problems,
pain and decreased mobility.
Sleep apnea/Respiratory problems. Fat deposits in the tongue
and neck can cause intermittent obstruction of the air passage. Because
the obstruction is increased when sleeping on your back, you may find
yourself waking frequently to reposition yourself. The resulting loss
of sleep often results in daytime drowsiness and headaches.
Gastroesophageal reflux/Heartburn. Acid belongs in the stomach
and seldom causes any problem when it stays there. When acid escapes
into the esophagus through a weak or overloaded valve at the top of
the stomach, the result is called gastroesophageal reflux, and "heartburn"
and acid indigestion are common symptoms. Approximately 10-15% of patients
with even mild sporadic symptoms of heartburn will develop a condition
called Barrett's esophagus, which is a pre-malignant change in the lining
membrane of the esophagus, a cause of esophageal cancer. For more information
on Heartburn, its causes and possible cures, visit www.heartburnhelp.com.
Depression. Seriously overweight persons face constant challenges
to their emotions: repeated failure with dieting, disapproval from family
and friends, sneers and remarks from strangers. They often experience
discrimination at work, cannot fit comfortably in theatre seats, or
ride in a bus or plane.
Infertility. The inability or diminished ability to produce offspring.
Urinary stress incontinence. A large, heavy abdomen and relaxation
of the pelvic muscles, especially associated with the effects of childbirth,
may cause the valve on the urinary bladder to be weakened, leading to
leakage of urine with coughing, sneezing, or laughing.
Menstrual irregularities. Morbidly obese individuals often experience
disruptions of the menstrual cycle, including interruption of the menstrual
cycle, abnormal menstrual flow and increased pain associated with the