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Health Conditions Caused by Obesity

Apart from the consumption of tobacco and its related products, obesity is today emerging as one of the leading causes of preventable deaths worldwide. The latest National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5), 2019-21, reports that one in every four Indians is obese. At a global level, too, obesity is having a lasting impact on communities, nations, and individuals, as the World Health Organization has reported that since 1975, obesity levels in the world have tripled.


Despite this growing number, the awareness of obesity-linked health risks is still quite limited. While health risks are high when a person is obese, it is equally important to understand that likelihood of problems starts when a person is slightly overweight. With every kilo that they gain, the risk increases substantially. More importantly, the risk factors and health issues related to obesity are rising for individuals who suffer from this problem and those who are their caregivers and families. That's not all – the health risks associated with obesity also result in a massive economic burden as the disease burden for this condition is relatively high and can increase at every stage, mainly if it is not controlled.

Health Conditions Caused by Obesity

we have put together a list of health conditions that can be caused by obesity. 

1. Type 2 diabetes

A major cause of Type 2 diabetes is obesity which occurs when blood sugar levels rise. People who have diabetes are about ten times more likely to suffer from this condition which in turn can create a host of other complications, including cardiovascular diseases, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, nerve damage, hard to heal infections, among others.

So how does obesity impact diabetes? Managing glucose levels in the blood is the primary function of the pancreas. This is done through the creation of insulin, a hormone that moves the glucose in the blood to muscles for energy or the liver, where it is stored for later use. However, when a person has obesity and Type 2 diabetes, the cells resist the insulin from moving the glucose in the body, which means that glucose remains in the bloodstream. All this results in the pancreas overworking to create extra insulin, worsening this situation.

2. Heart diseases

There is a direct link between obesity and heart disease. For individuals who suffer from severe obesity, health issues with irregular heartbeats are a cause of extreme concern as this can substantially increase the risk of a heart attack. Another way in which obesity can cause heart problems is by causing atherosclerosis, which is the hardening of arteries due to a gradual plaque build-up in the body. This is caused by high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, obesity, lack of exercise, and a diet high in saturated fat, all of which are again causes of obesity. Atherosclerosis develops over time and may not show symptoms until it leads to a heart attack or stroke.

3. Bone and Joint pain

There is no doubt that obesity can lead to issues in the bones and joints. These issues can increase the risk for accidents and personal injury while also putting a person at an increased chance of contracting arthritis, disc herniation, spinal disorders, and back pain. Every extra kilogram in the body is dangerous as it can put a lot of strain on the joints, which suffer from a lot of wear and tear with age.

4. Mental health

Fat shaming has always been a part of many cultures, and today, with increased digitalization, mental health, especially for obese individuals, tends to suffer greatly. Obese people generally suffer from reduced well-being and negative emotions, which can lead to depression and anxiety. This is all the truer if the person is young and obese, as, during that age, self-image plays a huge role in their public life. 

Some other ways in which obesity affects a person's health include the following:

  • Obesity can cause GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease, in which stomach acid leaks into the oesophagus. It can also increase the risk of developing gallstones, which might require surgery as a treatment option. 
  • Excess fat can impact the liver by causing liver damage and failure in the long run. It also increases a person's risk for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). 
  • Respiratory problems associated with obesity occur when a person is obese, and there is a lot of weight on their chest. This can lead to the lungs being squeezed, which restricts proper breathing, especially when they sleep. 
  • Overweight women are at an increased risk for various cancers, including breast, colon, gallbladder, and uterus. On the other hand, men who are overweight have a higher risk of colon and prostate cancers.


It has therefore been proved that obesity can impact the human body in multiple harmful ways. The good news is that simple lifestyle changes can help prevent obesity and even result in weight loss. However, not everyone can lose weight through lifestyle changes, and consulting a doctor or dietician is essential for understanding the reason behind each case.




Dr. Farah Ingle, Director-Internal Medicine

Fortis Hiranandani Hospital Vashi 

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