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10 Serious Health Problems Linked To Obesity

Obesity is a major concern in the United States. Obesity has been linked to several chronic conditions and health problems including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer. While many people are aware of obesity-related health issues such as heart disease or type 2 diabetes, there are some lesser-known implications of being overweight that may surprise you. Here are 10 serious health problems associated with obesity:

Heart disease

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. Heart problems can lead to stroke, kidney failure, and other health issues. Obesity is considered a major risk factor for heart disease because it makes you more likely to develop high blood pressure and diabetes—both of which are linked to heart disease. Smoking also increases your risk of developing heart disease by increasing your blood pressure and damaging your arteries.

High blood pressure

High blood pressure can be a serious, even life-threatening condition. It can lead to heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in every three adults has high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. Fat can build up around internal organs and cause them to become less efficient at removing salt from the body through urine or sweat, which leads to increased fluid retention that results in higher blood volume and higher blood pressure levels overall.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or cannot use its own insulin correctly. This can happen over time as the body becomes resistant to insulin's effects. It can also happen quickly in people who are overweight, especially those with excess fat around the abdomen.

Liver disease

Liver disease is a serious health condition that can be caused by obesity. If you're carrying too much weight, your liver struggles to do its job and is more likely to develop fatty liver disease (also known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease). This condition occurs when fat builds up in the organ without the presence of alcohol abuse or other forms of liver damage. Over time, this excess fat can lead to inflammation and scarring—a condition called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).


A stroke is a brain attack that occurs when a clot blocks the blood flow to an area of the brain. It's a leading cause of disability and death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC reports that:

  • 85% of strokes are caused by blocked arteries.

  • The other 15% result from bleeding into or around an artery in your brain.

  • People who have one or more risk factors for having a stroke (such as high blood pressure) are at higher risk than those who don't have any significant risk factors.

Osteoarthritis and gout

Osteoarthritis and gout are more likely to develop in obese people, as obesity puts added stress on the joints.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that causes pain and stiffness in the joints. It affects about 27 million Americans, with more than 80 percent of cases occurring after age 50. Obesity contributes to osteoarthritis because it increases pressure on bones, tendons, and ligaments (the tissues connecting bones together), potentially leading to overuse injuries that can cause damage to joints over time.

Gout is a form of arthritis that causes severe pain and inflammation in the joints — most commonly in the big toe but also in other areas such as ankles and wrists. Obesity can trigger gout because excess weight increases uric acid levels in the blood which leads to an increased risk of developing gout symptoms such as painful swelling (inflammation).

Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. It affects millions of people worldwide. If you have sleep apnea, you may feel tired even after getting enough sleep and be at risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

Depression and anxiety

Depression and anxiety are both common mental health disorders linked to obesity. Both of these conditions have been found to be associated with obesity in a number of studies. In fact, some research has shown that being obese may increase the risk of developing depression or anxiety by as much as 50%.


If you're overweight or obese, your risk of developing cancer goes up. Obesity is a known risk factor for 14 types of cancer: esophageal adenocarcinoma; colon and rectum (colon); liver and intrahepatic bile ducts (liver); gallbladder; pancreas; kidney; uterine cervix and endometrial cancers; breast; prostate; thyroid gland; blood cell cancers such as leukemia, myeloma, and lymphoma.

Obesity can increase the chances of getting certain cancers because it raises levels of estrogen in women who have never been pregnant by increasing body fat stores that store estrogen. Being overweight may cause abnormalities in cells that make up tissues within the body like fat tissue as well as muscle cells that lead to cancerous growths.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition that affects the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES is responsible for keeping food and stomach acid from backing up into your esophagus. When it doesn't work properly, acid travels back into your esophagus, causing pain and heartburn.


Bariatric surgery can be an excellent tool to help patients lose weight. Weight loss through bariatric surgery can resolve or greatly improve the health problems listed above. In fact, studies have shown weight loss surgery can lower a person’s risk of death from any cause by over 40 percent.


Losing weight on your own can be overwhelming. At Nashville Weight Loss Solutions we are here to support you. We offer a variety of surgical and non-surgical solutions to help you on your journey. Our team works with our patients to develop a comprehensive, personalized plan to help you achieve results based on your unique weight loss needs. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.


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