What Are the Health Risks With Being Obese or Overweight

obesityThere are many health risks associated with being obese or overweight. If you are obese or overweight, that alone is considered a chronic disease.

Nobody sets out to become obese. It happens before you even realize how much weight you’ve gained in some instances. It’s important to maintain a healthy weight if you want to be free from chronic diseases and live a long healthy life.

In this article we will discuss ways to know if you are overweight or obese, the health risk factors associated with being obese and overweight, BMI (Body Mass Index), and steps to take that will put you on the road to a healthy weight.

The Health Risks of Being Overweight

If you are overweight or obese you have an increased risk of developing:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Respiratory problems
  • Hypertension
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sleep apnea
  • Some cancers
  • Stroke
  • Type II diabetesFAT

People who are the most sedentary have up to a 50% increased risk of colon cancer (source). But, if you become active at any age, you are more likely to lower that risk.

Excess body weight leads to fatty materials accumulating in your arteries. This causes problems with getting blood to and from your heart, brain, and other organs.

If too much fatty material occupies the arteries that carry blood to your brain, then you could have a stroke or vascular dementia.

There are 2 types of fat in the body. Subcutaneous fat and visceral fat.

Subcutaneous fat is the fat that you can see and feel, it sits just beneath the skin. Visceral fat is deeper. It sits around our internal organs like our heart and our liver. Too much visceral fat can raise your blood cholesterol levels, increase your blood pressure, and increase your risk of developing type II diabetes. And all of these are linked to heart and circulatory diseases.

Where a person carries excess fat matters, too. People who are apple-shaped (have extra weight around their middle) are at a higher risk than people who are pear-shaped (carry extra weight around their thighs, buttocks, and hips). This is because of the visceral fat that sits around the organs that are housed in our middle sections. The visceral fat is practically suffocating our organs.

Are You Overweight or Obese?

There are a few ways to determine whether you are overweight or obese. The most common tool used by doctors and other health and fitness professionals is the BMI (Body Mass Index) calculation. It is calculated by dividing your weight (in pounds) times 703 by your height (in inches) squared. You can use the calculator here to determine your BMI.

BMI is calculated like this excess

Below 18.5=Underweight

18.5-24.9=Healthy Weight


30.0 and above=Obese

There are also classes of obesity :

30-34.9 is Class I Obesity (mild)

35-39.9 is Class II Obesity (moderate)

40.0 or higher is Class III Obesity (severe)

BMI is not an estimate of body fat, and it is not a diagnostic tool. It can be used to calculate the size of a person’s body in relation to their height. The calculation is used to determine the person’s health status. What are their health risks?

The BMI tool would not be an accurate way to assess the health status of a bodybuilder or professional athlete, because they have higher levels of lean muscle mass. The calculation would give an inaccurate result where the body builder’s BMI would falsely show him or her as obese. And the professional athlete could have the same result. They should use a direct measurement of body composition and body fat. Two of these methods are

  1. Bioelectrical impedance. This is a common method of determining body fat percentage that tells the total body weight, the percentage of body fat, muscle mass, water, and bone mass. It provides fairly accurate results over time.
  2. Skin-fold thickness measurements. This is done using a caliper device that measures 3 spots on the body. Usually the chest, abdominals, and thigh. The skin is pinched while pulling the muscle away from the fat, and the fold of the skin is measured with the calipers.

BMI is not used with children. Instead, they use growth charts and percentiles. BMI alone is not an indicator of health. Other factors are also taken into consideration such as one’s diet, lifestyle, level of physical activity, family history, genetics, and other health screenings.

What Can We Do?

Being overweight depletes a person’s energy. It takes a lot of energy to carry around extra weight all day. Overweight people exerciseobeseare not likely to move around a lot unless they have to. This is bad and creates a vicious cycle. The more they don’t move, the more overweight they become.

When we are in the habit of not working out, it takes extra effort to get started with a workout program. When we are in the habit of making unhealthy food choices, that habit is hard to break too. No matter how challenging it may be, it can and should be done.

To decrease your risk of the above-mentioned diseases, you’ll have to lower your BMI to a healthy weight. Yes, you can do it.

You start by setting a goal. It is not healthy to lose more than 1-2 lbs a week. Let’s make our goal S.M.A.R.T. So it has to be Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Relevant. and Timely.

Let’s say you want to lose 50 lbs. If you set your goal for 2 lbs a week, it will take you 25 weeks to lose all 50 lbs. 25 weeks is almost 6 months. So, a goal could be to lose 50 lbs in 6 months. This is a S.M.A.R.T goal. Write down your goals.

To lose 1-2 lbs. a week you need to burn 500 more calories than you are eating. So, if you eat 1,500 calories, you need to burn 2,000 calories.

Yes, it is going to take some time. You didn’t become overweight overnight. You won’t lose it overnight. Take a deep breath and begin to make some healthy food choices. Read my article on nutrition for tips on doing this. Be mindful of what you are eating at all times. Keep a food journal.

Next, you need to create an exercise plan. Read my article on how to do that here. Remember to start slow and steady. Gradually increase the amount of time you exercise and also gradually increase the amount of weight you work out with. Don’t forget to give your muscles 48 hours of recovery time. Work legs and bottom on opposite days of working the upper body. This way you can do some form of cardio exercise 5-6 days a week, and you will still get in time for strength training.

If you really want to create a great calorie burn that lasts for hours after your workout, try some HIIT workouts. Give yourself a rest day every week. Once you have been exercising regularly for a few weeks it will be easier for you to stick with it. Push yourself to get through the first 3 weeks, and it will become a habit.

Fad diets don’t work. You need to make lifestyle changes that will stick with you forever. Diets are temporary. We’re in this for the long haul.

You can do it. No excuses. Let’s get to it.

If you have any questions or comments please leave them below.

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