Public Health

How Obesity Affects the Body

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Obesity rates in America are higher than ever before — not just among adults but children, too. And its impacts go far beyond self-esteem. It’s a medical condition that can have serious health consequences.

Defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, obesity can have several causes, including hormonal issues, lack of sleep, poor diet and high stress levels.

Keep reading to learn about how obesity affects the body.

Cardiovascular System

If you have a high BMI, your heart needs to work harder to pump blood throughout your body, causing your blood pressure to rise. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is the leading cause of stroke. In addition, it can cause your blood vessels to harden, which can increase your risk of having a heart attack.

Digestive System

Obesity may cause fat to build up around the liver and lead to liver damage, or even liver failure. It’s also linked to a higher risk of developing gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, which develops when stomach acid leaks into the esophagus. In addition, obesity raises your risk of developing gallstones, which happens when bile builds up and hardens in the gallbladder.

Endocrine System

Because of its ability to make the body’s cells resistant to insulin, obesity is a major risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. People who have Type 2 diabetes are at a greater risk for developing other health conditions, like heart and kidney disease.

Reproductive System

Obesity can affect a woman’s ability to become pregnant and makes them more susceptible to developing complications during pregnancy. It can also reduce testosterone levels in men, which can make it harder to conceive.

Respiratory System

Excess fat in the neck can make the airways too small and breathing difficult. This can lead to sleep apnea, which is when you stop breathing for periods of time throughout the night.

Skeletal and Muscular Systems

Obesity can cause you to lose muscle mass and bone density, putting you at a heightened risk for a fracture or other physical injury. Extra weight can also put too much pressure on your body’s joints, which can cause stiffness and pain.

Mental Health

In addition to the effects on your body’s physical systems, obesity can also have a negative impact on mental health, with links to depression and poor self-esteem. It’s an illness that impacts your whole health — body, mind and spirit.

Research found that people who are obese are more likely to have depression than people with healthy weights. Since the studies included in the analysis assessed weight and mood only at one point in time, the investigators could not say whether obesity increases the risk of depression or depression increases the risk of obesity. New evidence confirms that the relationship between obesity and depression may go both ways.

Find the Right Weight-Loss Solutions

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If you’re living with obesity, there is hope. You can reverse or reduce many of its harmful health effects by making lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise.

We can help. At AdventHealth, we have a team of experts dedicated to providing you with weight-loss solutions that work for you and your life. We want you to feel whole.

Learn more at

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