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Watch Your Plate! Obesity in children & young adults can have long-term impact

What is Obesity?

Obesity is a complex health issue that affects individuals across the globe. Some behaviours that can contribute to Obesity include lack of physical activity, irregular dietary patterns, medication use, and other exposures. A serious consequence of Obesity can be poor mental health and reduced quality of life.  Further, it is also the leading cause of death worldwide; it can lead to conditions such as Diabetics, Heart Disease, Stroke, and some types of Cancer.

It is essential to prevent Obesity in all age groups, particularly in teenagers and youngsters, since Obesity in young people is directly linked to a high number of diseases and problems in adulthood. Let us look at how Obesity affects different parts of the human body. 

Nervous System

Obesity dramatically increases the risk of Stroke, when blood stops flowing to the brain. Research shows that being overweight more than doubles your chances of having a Stroke. Much of this has to do with how excess weight places excessive stress on your Heart and affects blood flow. Around 9% of people in the healthy weight range have Metabolic Syndrome; this number increases to 33% of overweight people, and 62% of people who are obese. The more metabolic risk factors you have, the greater your risk of Stroke. 


Obesity can also have a profound effect on your mental health, including a higher risk of Depression, poor self-esteem, and issues with body image. Several research studies have found that Obesity is linked to mood and Anxiety disorders. The relationship between Obesity and mental health differs from person to person; for some people, emotional distress may lead to overeating. Food can serve to cope with stress, resulting in excessive weight gain and Obesity. 

Respiratory System

Fat stored around the neck can cause the airways to become too small, making breathing very difficult, especially at night. When untreated, it can cause Sleep Apnea, which can even prove fatal. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is most common in patients that also suffer from Obesity. Not only can excess weight cause Sleep Apnea, but it can worsen the symptoms and exacerbate its detrimental health effects. Insufficient sleep may also lead to weight gain, making it a vicious cycle. 

Digestive System

Obesity has been linked with a higher risk of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). GERD is a chronic illness that occurs when stomach acid or bile flows upwards into the food pipe and irritates the lining. Acid Reflux and heartburn more than twice a week may indicate GERD. Most people can manage the discomfort of GERD with lifestyle changes, including weight loss and over-the-counter medications. But some people with GERD may need more potent drugs or surgery to ease symptoms. Additionally, Obesity increases the risk of developing Gallstones when bile builds up and hardens in the Gallbladder. Often, Gallstones cannot be treated with medications and may require surgery. Fat can also build up around the Liver and lead to Liver damage, scar tissues, and even Liver failure. 

Cardiovascular & Endocrine System

A healthy Heart is critical for ones well-being. In people with Obesity, the Heart needs to work extra hard to pump blood to the various organs. This, in turn, can cause high blood pressure or Hypertension. Further, high blood pressure is one of the leading causes of Stroke.  


Obesity can also make a person’s body resistant to Insulin. Insulin is a hormone that carries sugar from your blood to your cells, used for energy. If you’re immune to Insulin, the sugar can’t be taken up by the cells, resulting in high blood sugar. The person’s risk of having type 2 Diabetes increases with Obesity. Type 2 Diabetes is linked to other health issues, including Heart disease, Kidney disease, Stroke, blindness and even amputation!


High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar on top of excess body fat can make the blood vessels that carry blood to the Heart hard and narrow. Hardened arteries, also called Atherosclerosis, can increase the risk of Heart Attack and Stroke. Further, Diabetes and high blood pressure are also common causes of Chronic Kidney Disease – so keeping Obesity at bay is highly recommended for your cardiovascular health

Skeletal & Muscular Systems

Obesity can cause the deterioration of bone density and muscle mass. This is referred to as Osteosarcopenic Obesity, and it can lead to a higher risk of fractures, physical disability, Insulin resistance, and poorer overall health outcomes. Further, extra weight can put too much pressure on the joints, leading to pain and stiffness.  


Obesity has been linked with an increased risk of many different cancers, including Endometrial, Liver, Kidney, Cervical, Colon, Esophageal, and Pancreatic Cancer. In addition, if women are trying to get pregnant, then maintaining a healthy weight is highly critical. While it is possible to reduce weight with lifestyle changes and dietary modifications, the best way to tackle obesity-related issues is to prevent them. Preventing Obesity plays a vital role in good health. Obesity is associated with many chronic health conditions, many of which become more difficult to treat over time.


Note that if you have implemented significant lifestyle changes and are still gaining weight or are unable to lose weight, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional. There may be an underlying medical condition, such as an endocrine disease or one that causes fluid retention, so reaching out to a healthcare professional is highly recommended.

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