I have been catching a lot of heat for this week’s topic. No one wants to talk about fat and for some reason, my skinniest friends think I am talking about them. We are a culture obsessed with our weight and very few people are happy with their body. This week, though, is not about individual body image. I do shudder at the thought of a nation of overweight people but it is not because of aesthetics, it is because of the health implications that come with obesity.
Overweight and obese people are at increased risk of:
1. Type 2 Diabetes - being overweight makes it very difficult for your body to control your blood sugar resulting in increased risk for diabetes. As obesity rates rise, so do diabetes rates.
2. Cardiovascular disease – being overweight increases your chances of having high blood pressure and coronary artery disease which in turn, increases your chance of having a heart attack or stroke.
3. Cancer - including uterus, breast, ovarian, colon and prostate. This increased risk seems to be the result of a combination of lack of physical activity, increased stress on the body at a cellular level and hormonal changes caused by fat cells.
4. Depression – I get slightly depressed when my jeans are a little tighter than usual. I usually cure that by convincing myself that they recently came out of the dryer and I am bloated and I drank too much water before I put them on. I can only imagine how being truly unhappy with your appearance can cause someone to become depressed. It is not all a result of not liking the way you look. There are actual chemical changes that occur because of the obesity itself.
5. Sleep disturbances - obesity causes sleep apnea because the fat cells can actually clog the airways. Narrowing of the airway results in cessation of breathing for short periods of time which interrupts sleep. The resulting fatigue discourages physical activity and the cycle continues.
On the positive side, a moderate degree of being overweight is protective for your bone health and will reveal fewer wrinkles in your face. Of course, you can take Boniva like Gidget and use Retin-A so, with the above in mind, it is probably smarter to maintain a healthy weight.
I want to stress that I am not passing judgement. Obesity is a very serious condition that is very difficult to cure. There is no quick fix and as we all know, changing our lifestyle and mindset is not easy. Individuals are responsible for their own health but as a society, we have got get our s@#t together.
Tomorrow – risk factors for becoming obese. Thursday – childhood obesity.