The health consequences for having excess body weight are well documented. Five of the most serious consequences of being overweight are described below.
- Type II diabetes mellitus has been strongly associated with excess weight. Type II diabetes is likely to develop after childhood, is often referred to as “adult onset diabetes” and can usually be treated with diet and/or oral medications. Type II diabetes is a disease of insulin excess and can be deadly if left untreated. Type II diabetes can have genetic origins. If your parents have had it then it is likely that you too have inherited the predisposition to the disease, making prevention an important issue. It is possible to ward off or even reverse the damaging effects of Type II diabetes by following the proper diet and exercise routine.
- For every six-pound increase in body weight above optimum levels there is a significant increase in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The longer the excess weight remains on the body the greater the possibility of developing hypertension. Hypertension’s relationship with obesity is well documented. However, why hypertension follows from obesity is still unclear. Given that hypertension is more likely in those carrying excess weight it is important to have regular blood pressure screenings.
- Coronary heart disease, more commonly known as a heart attack, occurs when blood flow to an area of the heart is cut off. Some risk factors for heart disease include diabetes and hypertension. American insurance companies have collected data indicating that death rates contributed to heart disease are significantly higher in those who are overweight. As long as the heart is able to provide oxygen-rich blood to the body, it will continue to pump indefinitely. However, build up of plaque in the artery walls reduces blood flow. If the flow is diminished significantly, the heart will be unable to function. Obesity has been linked to the buildup of plaque and heart disease.
- Medical complications are not the only result one may experience by being overweight. Certain social consequences occur at a much greater rate than the medical consequences previously described. Prejudice toward obese and overweight people has been allowed to run rampant, despite the National Institute of Health declaring such prejudice as a devastating behavior of modern culture. Studies showing pictures of normal weight and obese people indicated that society is more likely to rate overweight people as “lazy”, “stupid”, and “not likeable”.
- In addition to prejudice, overweight people have to contend with workplace discrimination. When an obese person enters the job market they are likely to experience discrimination, both subtle and overt. A recent study surveyed employers and found that 16% said they would not hire an obese person under any circumstances, and 44% said they would hesitate before hiring an overweight person.