What are the Different Obesity Symptoms?

M.R. Anglin

Being obese is more than just being overweight. It refers to a man who carries more than 25% body fat or a woman who carries more than 35%. Carrying that extra weight can trigger a variety of physical problems and symptoms. Some of the different obesity symptoms are shortness of breath, skin irritation, joint and back pain, and fatigue. It is important that a person who is obese manage his or her weight as soon as possible because obesity can lead to serious health problems and even death.

An excess of weight can lead to shortness of breath problems.
An excess of weight can lead to shortness of breath problems.

One of the main obesity symptoms associated with carrying too much excess weight is shortness of breath. If too much fat is stored below and around the chest area, it could push against the diaphragm and cause pressure in the lungs. All that exerted pressure may result in difficulty breathing properly. As a result, a person may have to take shallower breaths and so may become breathless by carrying out daily, routine activities.

Sleep apnea and difficulty sleeping are common symptoms of obesity.
Sleep apnea and difficulty sleeping are common symptoms of obesity.

Not being able to breathe well can cause a person to not get enough oxygen into his or her body. Lack of oxygen can lead to another of the different obesity symptoms: fatigue. Without the appropriate amount of oxygen in the blood, the body may not be able to do its work efficiently. This can result in the person feeling tired and having to rest often. If a person is constantly fatigued, he or she may not be able to keep up with others or participate in his favorite activities.

Skin irritation is another of the different obesity symptoms. Extra weight can result in rolls of fat, causing the skin to fold underneath it. The skin in those areas may rub against itself as the person moves and become raw. In addition, the skin tucked between the folds may not get the proper ventilation it needs and may remain moist as a person sweats. Having a moist, dark area may create an environment that promotes skin infections.

Excess weight can also put pressure on the skeletal system. This pressure can lead to another of the different obesity symptoms: back and joint pain. The body's joints can only handle so much weight and pressure. When too much is put on those joints, they can become stiff and sore. Obesity can also aggravate osteoarthritis, particularly in the hips, ankles, and knees.

Other examples of the different obesity symptoms include sleep apnea, snoring, depression, and difficulty sleeping. Sleep apnea is a condition where a person stops breathing while he or she sleeps. This can lead to other serious problems such as an increased risk of heart failure and stroke. Obesity can aggravate sleep apnea because the excess fat can close off airways and make it difficult for a person to breathe. Often, losing weight is enough to lead to a significant drop in most symptoms of obesity.

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Discussion Comments


@croydon - I think the problem is that obesity is very difficult to separate out from other conditions, like depression, diabetes, stress and other conditions. I saw a TED talk a while ago where a doctor suggested that a lot of obesity is actually caused by diabetes, and not the other way around. Since they are both present in so many cases, it's difficult to really assign cause and effect.


@Fa5t3r - The thing is that you don't define conditions by symptoms though. If a person has cancer but they aren't showing any symptoms, it should still be identified as cancer.

I don't think people who happen to be obese should be discriminated against either. It's a medical condition that can have certain consequences. It's difficult to argue that an overweight body has to work harder than a leaner one, even if it is overall more fit. Maybe the person will never have any negative symptoms. But they are still defined as obese.


One of the problems with obesity as it is currently defined is that it really doesn't have a standard that makes sense. Most people go with the BMI, which has a lot of problems. But even if it didn't, it still doesn't really work as a barometer of health.

I would much prefer it if doctors looked at the overall health of a patient instead of just labeling them as obese and therefore unhealthy. I know several people who would be classified as obese who run regularly and have really good cardiovascular fitness, and will probably outlive the average "skinny" person who doesn't do any exercise.

It might not seem like that much of a big deal, but even doctors will actively discriminate against people they see as overweight, which can lead them to not getting the treatment they need. That's a human rights issue.

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