A variety of medical problems are associated with being obese. The risks associated with medically severe obesity are greater than the risks associated with its surgical treatments.
Non insulin-dependent diabetes is highly associated with obesity. A weight gain of 11 to 18 pounds increases a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes to twice that of individuals who have not gained weight. After weight loss, up to 80% of patients find they no longer have symptoms or require diabetes medication. Obese patients who are not diabetic will significantly reduce their risk of developing diabetes with weight loss.
There is an increased risk for heart disease, such as heart attack, congestive heart failure, angina or chest pain, sudden death and abnormal heart rhythms.
Hypertension is also a risk factor of obesity. Losing weight is one of the primary recommendations for individuals with high blood pressure.
Infertility and complications of pregnancy
Many severely overweight women are infertile because their fatty tissue alters normal estrogen hormone levels. This causes the ovaries not to release eggs. Weight loss can significantly increase one's chances of becoming pregnant.
Obesity during pregnancy is associated with increased risk of death in both the baby and the mother and increases in maternal bloodpressure by 10 times. Women who are obese during pregnancy are more likely to have gestational diabetes and problems with labor and delivery.
Sleep apnea (gaps in breathing during sleep) is a very common and serious complication of obesity. It can become so serious that heart and lung damage or sudden death can result.
Obesity is associated with an increased risk for certain types of cancer: uterine, colon, gall bladder, prostate, kidney and breast cancer.
For every 2-pound increase in weight, the risk of developing arthritis is increased by 9 to 13%.
Other important health risks
Gastroesophageal reflux or severe heartburn, urinary incontinence, venous problems of the legs, lower back pain, and disability from degenerative arthritis and disk disease have also been linked to being severely overweight. Other problems, including joint pain and hypoventilation, or shortness of breath, are significantly improved or reversed by weight loss.
Surgeons in the division also perform surgery to treat severe GERD; learn more about GERD and its treatments here.
Decreased Life Span
Individuals with medically severe obesity have a decreased life span. A recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine (Jan. 2003) concluded that obesity and overweight are associated with large decreases in life expectancy and increases in early death.
- Forty year old female nonsmokers lost 7.1 years of life because of obesity
- Forty year old male nonsmokers lost 5.8 years because of obesity
- Obese female smokers lost 13.3 years and obese male smokers lost 13.7 years compared with normal weight nonsmokers.