The effects of obesity are numerous and daunting, and this is a condition few people choose willingingly. Nevertheless, in many industrialized societies it has become or is developing into a serious problem, and there are numerous countries, assisted by medical experts, seeking to stem the tide with government awareness programs. It’s important to clearly understand the risks of this condition because it may help encourage people to pursue healthier choices that could reduce these risks.
While there are numerous physical effects of obesity, which is usually defined as having a body mass index greater than 95% for a person’s age and height, it is also worth noting the psychological and social downsides of this condition. In most of the Westernized world, there is perhaps an over-obsession with body appearance that governs how people view each other. Those who are obese may be judged differently because of appearance; they are common victims of bullying, they may have fewer choices in mates, and they may experience discrimination in the workforce.
The negative opinions directed at the obese may lead to lifelong psychological effects. Body image and self-image may be extremely poor, and these things can lead to higher risk for depression and to behaviors that fuel the obesity. Many people who compulsively overeat do so because they are in deep pain about the way they have been treated by others on the issue of body size.
In addition to the psychological and social effects of obesity are all the medical risks that it causes. Just about every type of cardiac disease risk increases, and people who are obese are more likely to have high blood pressure, coronary disease, atherosclerosis, and high cholesterol. These lead to increased likelihood of suffering heart attacks and stroke.
Effects of obesity on the body are not limited to the heart. Much greater risk develops for becoming diabetic, and this in especially a concern for children who are very overweight, as they develop diabetes at very young ages. The body was also not built to withstand carrying large amounts of extra weight, and people who are deemed obese can have difficulty with bone and joint strength. They may be more like to develop arthritis, and some are at risk for osteoporosis.
Higher weight is associated with great risk for certain forms of cancer, especially of the breast, colon and prostate. Another of the effects of obesity can be reduced energy levels. People with this condition frequently have snoring problems and may have periods of sleep apnea episodes. These can cause extreme tiredness during daytime hours.
Given the very serious effects of obesity, people are strongly encouraged to seek medical attention if they suffer from this condition. People should especially seek guidance before beginning any rigorous exercise program. It is better to start slow and gradually increase activity, then to start fast, get injured and get discouraged.