What are the Effects of Obesity?

wiseGEEK Writer

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.

Obese people often have problems with regular sleeping patterns.
Obese people often have problems with regular sleeping patterns.

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.

Obesity may lead to a poor self-image.
Obesity may lead to a poor self-image.

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.

Obesity may increase risk of heart attack.
Obesity may increase risk of heart attack.

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Discussion Comments


Obesity also effects cholesterol. My cholesterol always goes through the roof when I gain weight and I suffer from digestive problems a lot like bloating and gas. It's also hard on my knees. Climbing those stairs at work is such a pain. It's so crazy, how many different organs of the body obesity effects. Obesity is probably one of the main causes for most diseases and illnesses but we don't realize it.


My mom has been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and it happened at a time when she gained weight for really the first time in her life. She has been thin for most of her life, now she is over fifty years old and her weight gain is mainly concentrated around her stomach and waist area.

I read an article about diabetes and it was written there that fat around the stomach affects insulin sensitivity and recognition in the body and it is very bad for diabetes patients. I guess when we are obese, the insulin in our blood is not always recognized by the cells and that increases the sugar in our blood.

I told my mom about the article and I'm going to help her with her diet and exercise to shed the weight around her waist.


My weight has shifted up and down throughout my life. I have been both obese and very thin at different stages. I have noticed that I gain weight during stressful stages of my life and when I am depressed. I think weight gain leads to depression as well, so in that sense it is like a vicious circle. Depression leading to inactivity and obesity which then causes more depression, stress and anxiety.

If I manage to break out of the cycle, start exercising and feeling more optimistic, weight loss comes naturally. I just haven't been able to figure out how to prevent it from happening again. I don't want weight gain to influence my psychology in a way that it does and I don't want to lose my self-confidence just because I don't look as good physically. It's such a challenge, probably the biggest challenge of my life and I don't know how to beat it.

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