Straight, No Chaser: The Adverse Health Effects of Obesity and Why You Gain Weight

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Earlier, we identified the differences between a ‘normal’ weight and being overweight and/or obese. Today’s goal is to help you understand specific risks of carrying extra weight.  We’ll also set the table for losing weight by discussing why weight gain occurs.  It bears repeating that none of this has anything to do with the perception of one’s physical attractiveness.

Let’s focus on three considerations.

1. What are the health risks?

As body weight increases, so does the risk for several different medical conditions and illnesses, including the following:

• Arthritis
• Cancers (breast, endometrial, and colon)
• Diabetes
• Gynecological problems (abnormal periods, infertility)
• Heart disease (heart attacks, heart failure, hardening of the arteries)
• High cholesterol
• Liver and gallbladder disease (gallstones)
• Sleep apnea and other respiratory problems
• Stroke

In the event that these risks are just words on a page, learning a little bit about some of them might provide the motivation needed to avoid them.

2. What is a realistic goal for weight loss?  What’s the balance between family predisposition and the foods I eat?

No matter what I tell you today, it’s unlikely to turn you into a supermodel. The goal (independent of your consultation with your own health care provider) is to get you to optimize your situation based on the things you can control. Yes, genetic factors do play a role in obesity, but beyond that you are more than able to close your mouth and get off your…couch. You are able to limit your fat and caloric intake and put down the salt shaker. Yes, genetics count, but behavior and environmental (culture, socioeconomic status) consideration play at least as much of a role. These latter considerations can even jumpstart your metabolism beyond your genetic predisposition.

3. Why do I gain weight if I’m still active?

The most simple way to answer this is that weight gain occurs from an energy imbalance.  You’re taking in too many calories, and/or you’re not engaging in enough physical activity. It’s an equation, and the weight gain occurs when you’re on the wrong side of the equation. It’s not much more complicated than this. Either do less of the eating, more of the activity, or both.  I mentioned in a previous post on caloric counts that you must have an excess of 500 more calories expended than you ingest daily every day for a week just to lose one pound.  It takes work.  This is the simple answer as to why fad diets don’t work long-term.  You can’t cheat the equation.  The moment you stop being diligent, you’re headed in the wrong direction.  Your weight loss plan must include lifestyle changes for the long-term.

In the next post, we’ll identify some very simple methods to combat obesity based on the information provided to this point. Feel free to ask any questions or submit any comments you have.

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9 Comments

Filed under General Health and Wellness, Health Prevention

9 responses to “Straight, No Chaser: The Adverse Health Effects of Obesity and Why You Gain Weight

  1. Darla

    This is great information. I am especially enjoying the post on this matter. I encourage you to please continue your daily posts. I certainly hope that this particular subject can and will be discussed more than the three days you said.

    • Thank you Darla for the kind words. Now that we’re over 100 posts on the Blog, I’ve begun categorizing topics, so there may be more available to you than you realize. You can either type a word like ‘obesity’ into the search engine and all the related posts will show up, or you can go to the categories and look at the appropriate area. Something like obesity would be found under general health, for example. This process will be completed by the next Week In Review post.

      There’s so many different topics to address. I’ll continue to provide the information as long as I continue to get positive feedback like yours! Thanks again, and thanks for following, Straight, No Chaser.

  2. Darla

    Please explain how being overweight affects a woman’s ability to become pregnant.
    Has there been any studies done that link excess weight to the disproportionate fibroids in AA women?

    • Being overweight doesn’t necessarily affect your ability to become pregnant. More often, it’s the conditions that are associated with obesity that cause problems. For example if your being obese affects your menstrual cycle (which it can), that would be a problem, because if you’re not producing eggs, you won’t get pregnant. Also, women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and fibroids can see problems; again, both conditions are associated with being overweight. In the example of PCOS, your ovaries are damaged to the extent to which hormones don’t allow egg release (and maturation). In the example of fibroids, first off, not all fibroids are a threat to pregnancy. However, the ones that are cause problems with implantation of the egg into the womb (uterus) and are associated with both an increased risk of premature delivery and miscarriage. Thanks for the question.

    • Hi, Darla. The first part was addressed in the response to the previous question. Regarding studies, yes. The higher obesity rate in some ethnicities, including AA women, contribute to a higher preponderance of fibroids. AA women also obtain fibroids at a younger age, they are more symptomatic, and they grow quicker. Thanks for the question.

  3. Darla

    Dr. Sterling, what is the right question(s) to be asked from this post?
    What is dyslipdemia ? This is my first time hearing this term. Please explain it.

    How does excess weight create an environment for any of the cancers you mentioned? Thank you so much for this information.

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