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Facts About Obesity

Obesity is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. But being overweight is not always due to a lack of will power or exercise. Sometimes your family history may be to blame. For some people, no amount of dieting or exercising will help.

What is Obesity?

Obesity is a condition in which the body stores excess energy in the form of fat. A person is considered obese if he or she weighs 20 percent or more over his or her ideal body weight or has a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. Calculate your BMI.

What is Morbid Obesity?

Morbid obesity is a condition in which individuals are at least 100 pounds over their ideal weight or have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher. Morbid obesity can result from emotional, biochemical and genetic influences. It is a potentially dangerous condition because it is associated with other medical problems that can lead to disability and an early death.

What Health Problems are Associated with Obesity?

Cardiovascular Problems
Heart Disease
High Cholesterol
Diabetes
Respiratory Problems
Asthma and Bronchitis
Sleep Apnea Syndrome
Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome
Musculoskeletal Problems
Stress Urinary Incontinence
Venous Stasis Disease
Female Hormone Abnormalities
Heartburn

Cardiovascular Problems

High blood pressure is common in obese persons and can lead to heart disease, kidney failure and stroke.

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Heart Disease

An obese person's heart has to work much harder than that of a person of normal weight. Because of this, an obese person is much more likely to develop heart disease, including congestive heart failure.

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High Cholesterol

Cholesterol is often elevated in those who are severely overweight, which can lead to the development of hardening of the blood vessels and heart disease.

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Diabetes

An overweight person is 10 times more likely than a person of normal weight to develop Type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes. Diabetes is a major cause of adult-onset blindness, kidney failure and over one-half of all limb amputations. It is also the third leading cause of death in the United States.

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Respiratory Problems

An obese person, whose lungs are often not large enough to lift their heavy chest wall, can have trouble breathing especially when active.

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Asthma and Bronchitis

Obesity does not directly cause asthma or bronchitis, but can interfere with breathing and aggravate an attack.

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Sleep Apnea Syndrome

Sleep apnea, usually associated with loud snoring, is a serious condition that occurs when soft tissue in the throat collapses causing a complete blockage of the throat. Persons with sleep apnea do not get a restful sleep. They may wake up with a headache and fall asleep during the day. Sleep apnea is a life-threatening problem that can cause sudden death. It can also lead to high blood pressure and heart rhythm disturbances.

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Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome

Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome occurs primarily in the severely obese and is often associated with sleep apnea. Abnormal breathing causes toxic levels of carbon dioxide to build up in the blood. It is characterized by episodes of drowsiness or falling asleep during waking hours.

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Musculoskeletal Problems

Being overweight compresses the spine, resulting in arthritis or a slipped disk. The nerve roots can also be irritated or compressed leading to sciatica, which is an intense pain down the outside of the leg. The hips, knees, ankles and feet also bear much of the weight of the body. These joints tend to wear out sooner, resulting in degenerative arthritis. Joint replacement surgery may be needed to relieve the pain. Many orthopedic surgeons will not perform joint replacement surgery in severely overweight patients because the results are not good.

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Stress Urinary Incontinence

A large, heavy abdomen may weaken the valve on the urinary bladder leading to leakage of urine when coughing, sneezing or laughing.

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Venous Stasis Disease

The veins of the lower legs carry blood back to the heart and are equipped with an elaborate system of delicate, one-way valves. When the valves are damaged, the blood in the veins backs up resulting in leg swelling, thickening and sometimes ulceration of the skin.

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Female Hormone Abnormalities

Obesity can cause certain female sex hormones to become unbalanced. As a result, women may become unable to conceive and develop ovarian cysts or irregular menstrual periods.

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Heartburn

Increased stomach pressure from abdominal fat results in a high rate of heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which causes belching, heartburn pain and a sour taste in the mouth.

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To register for a free informational seminar or to make an appointment for a consultation with a bariatric surgeon at Jeanes, click here or call 215-728-CARE (2273).

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