The Link between Weight and Health
Weight and health are strongly related to each other. Disease risk goes up slowly as weight gain pushes you out of the healthy weight range and into the o
verweight range. Your risk of disease and death increase significantly if extra weight puts you in the obese range. One study reported that obesity in middle age reduces life expectancy by seven years. The list of weight-related diseases continues to grow. Increased weight raises blood lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides) and blood pressure, which are heart disease risk factors. Weight gain impairs the body’s ability to handle glucose (blood sugar) and contributes to a pre-diabetic condition called insulin resistance. Other medical conditions that are associated with increased weight include certain cancers, osteoarthritis of the knees and other weight-bearing joints, gastrointestinal tract disturbances, interrupted sleep and sleep apnea, and reduced fertility. To date, obesity has been linked with more than thirty medical conditions.
It is not just big gains that carry ill health effects—the consequences of gradual or modest weight gain add up quickly. Even 10 or 20 extra pounds increases the risk of death among adults, as shown in a large study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. A recently published study found that just a 5% increase in the BMI over time had a negative impact on simple body functions like walking. Research on women, weight gain, and cancer found that women who gained 21 to 30 pounds since age 18 and were not on hormone replacement therapy were 40% more likely to get breast cancer than women who had gained no more than 5 pounds. The risk increased as the women’s weight increased. Similarly, another study found an 8% increase in the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer for every 11 pounds gained.
DO THOSE EXTRA FEW POUNDS REALLY MATTER?
As weight goes out of the healthy range, risk increases for
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Several forms of cancer
- Metabolic syndrome (Syndrome X)
- Gallbladder disease