When Being Overweight Is a Health Problem

Being overweight is more than just a "looks" problem. Being overweight increases a person’s risk of developing serious health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Other conditions that are linked to being overweight include joint problems, breathing problems, sleeping difficulty, mood swings and decreased energy levels. This just shows how being overweight can affect the quality of life of a person.

When is a person overweight?

When a person eats more calories than he or she burns, that means more and more fats accumulate in his or her body. When fat accumulation reaches the point where the amount of body fat has negative effect on the person’s health, that’s when health experts use words "overweight" and/or "obese".  

An overweight or obese person refers to someone who is most at risk of developing life-threatening conditions due to his or her weight. More people today suffer from obesity than ever before. Health experts call it an epidemic as it affects adults and kids as young as two. There are kids today who have "adult conditions" like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2diabetes.

Why do people become overweight?

Obesity is often genetic. Some people have genetic tendency to gain weight faster than others because they burn calories more slowly. Hundreds of years ago when food was not always available, a healthy metabolism was the key to our survival. Now, with food available 24/7 and without having to leave the house, that metabolism is working against us.

Aside from your genes, your household and how you were raised (your environment) also plays a crucial role to becoming overweight. Unhealthy foods, unhealthy family eating habits and lack of physical activity is a recipe for weight disaster.

A third reason emotional eating. People tend to overeat when they’re upset, sad, angry, anxious or bored.

Health problems linked to being overweight

There’s more to being overweight than not being accepted by your peers. Being overweight is unhealthy at any age. Below are some conditions common among overweight teens.

Blount’s disease – a condition characterized by bone deformity of the lower legs caused by excess weight (that had to be carried by growing bones).

Arthritis – a condition which involves damage to the joints. It is common in people over 50 years old. In overweight teens, carrying the extra weight causes this problem.

SCFE – or slipped capital femoral epiphyses is a painful hip problem common in overweight teens and children. SCFE requires surgery to prevent further damage to the joint.

Asthma – being overweight breathing problems

Sleep apnea – is a condition where a person temporarily stops breathing during sleep. Sleep apnea interrupts sleep and leaves people feeling tired. It affects their ability to focus and learn, plus it may also cause problems.

High blood pressure – high blood pressure causes the heart to pump harder, and the arteries must carry blood moving at a greater pressure. Prolonged high blood pressure can cause the heart and arteries not to function as well as they should.

High cholesterol – obese teens have abnormal blood lipid levels that result in high cholesterol. This in turn, increases their risks of heart attack and stroke when they get older.

Gallstones – gall stones are actually bile buildup that hardened into stones in the gallbladder. Gallstones can be painful, and may require surgery.

Fatty liver – fats that accumulate in the liver can result inflammation, scarring and even permanent liver damage.

Pseudotumor cerebri – is a rare cause of severe headaches in obese teens, mostly due to pressure build up in the brain (although there is not tumor). Aside from headaches, symptoms include vomiting and unsteady way of walking.

PCOS – or Polycystic ovary syndrome is characterized by the absence of (or missed) periods in obese teen girls. Obese girls who have PCOS may also have high testosterone levels in their blood, which can disrupt normal ovulation – which in turn, result in excessive hair growth and male-type baldness. PCOS is linked to insulin resistance which could be a sign of type 2 diabetes.

Fertility problems

Insulin resistance and diabetes – excess fat causes insulin to become less efficient in getting glucose into cells. Because of this, more insulin is needed to maintain the normal blood sugar. Being overweight could cause insulin resistance, which could develop to diabetes.

Depression – being overweight causes erratic mood swings. Coupled with low self -esteem, being overweight or obese increases a teen’s tendency to become depression.