10 Health Risks of Being Overweight or Obese

Dr.Poonam Sharma

May 25, 2021

Overweight is not an appearance issue; it is a medical concern. Overweight is a condition in which a person has an unhealthy distribution of body fat. Excess body fat increases strain on the bones and organs and causes changes in hormones and metabolism. People with a body mass index greater than 30 are classified as obese. 

Obesity affects a person’s health seriously and leads to many problems like heart disease, diabetes, and sleep apnea. It also affects mood, energy level, breathing, healthy sleep, and joints.

What is obesity?

Having a couple of extra pounds on your body than the ideal weight is not overweight. But when people keep up, the pattern of eating more calories than required may lead to the buildup of fat in their bodies. Our body reaches a saturation point, after which it creates adverse effects on the body. Obesity is the word used for those at a greater risk of developing weight-related health problems.

Why do people become overweight or obese?

Why do people become obese?

An increase in body weight is related to genetic, metabolic, behavioural, and hormonal influences. Consuming more calories than required and not burning the calories through normal daily activities and exercise leads to fat storage. 

  • Lifestyle choices: Following an unhealthy diet with more calories is one of the factors that increase body weight. Liquid calories obtained from alcohol and other high- calorie beverages are another reason for obesity. 
  • Sedentary lifestyle: In a sedentary lifestyle, a person eats more calories than he/she needs, and they fail to burn them. Spending more time in front of the computer, mobile, and television also increases weight gain. 
  • Health conditions: In some cases your weight gain may be due to underlying health conditions like Underactive thyroid, Cushing syndrome, Stress & low mood, PCOS. This weight gain here can be managed with minimal activity and the right diet.
  • Age: The change in the hormonal level and a less active lifestyle increases the body weight. The risks are more for adults than children. A less active life reduces metabolism and thus paves the way for fat accumulation.

10 Health risks of being overweight or obese:

Obesity impacts the quality of life by affecting both mind and body with increased risk for many health conditions and serious diseases.

Health problems associated with Overweight:

#1 Arthritis 


Excess body weight causes wear and tear in the joints and leads to arthritis. Arthritis is common among obese persons.

#2 Blount Disease

Blount Disease

Bone deformity on lower legs is called Blount disease. The inward turning of the bones worsens over time. This is more common among kids and teens.

#3 Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a major problem with obese children and adults. It is a condition in which people stop breathing temporarily while sleeping and leads to heart problems. It makes people feel tired and reduces their ability to concentrate and learn. 

#4 High Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a strain on the heart. The arteries and heart undergo more stress and lead to heart attack and related problems. High blood pressure is also called hypertension and is more common in obese teens. 

#5 High Cholesterol

High Cholesterol

High cholesterol, low HDL, and high triglyceride levels in the blood are an indication of abnormal blood lipid levels. It will increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. As the person gets older, the chances of risk are more. 

#6 Fatty liver

Fatty liver

Fat accumulation in the liver reduces its function. It leads to scarring, inflammation, and permanent liver damage.

#7 Gallstones


Gallstones are formed in the gallbladder when bile salts accumulate. Bile salts harden and become stones. These stones will cause pain and require surgery to remove them.

#8 Diabetes and insulin resistance

Diabetes and insulin resistance

When there is excess fat in the body, insulin becomes less effective, and the rate of conversion of glucose into energy gets reduced. To maintain normal blood sugar, we need more insulin.

#9 Depression


Depression is a mental state where people have lower self-esteem. Obese people can suffer from depression and often feel discomfort with society. 

#10 Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Girls may miss periods or not get their periods if they are obese. Elevated testosterone levels in girls can affect ovulation. The side effects of this condition include acne, hair growth, and baldness. PCOS is also associated with type 2 Diabetes. Overweight women may have fertility issues and PCOS.

Obesity affects the quality of life: 

Obesity affects your overall quality of life. It reduces public appearances and increases the chances of discrimination.

  • Disability.
  • Depression.
  • Social isolation
  • Sexual problems
  • Shame
  • Lack of concentration 

How to prevent health risks and reduce body weight? 

We can reduce our body weight by following a healthy lifestyle with more activity, exercise, and a healthy diet.

1. Regular exercise

Start with walking as the first step to reducing body weight. Gradually increase the time from 30 minutes to 60 minutes per day. Upgrade yourself from slow walking to fast walking, and you can try swimming and jogging at a later stage. 

  • Obese persons need 30 – 60 minutes of activity every day to prevent weight gain.
  • To reduce body weight, they must practice moderate to intense physical activity.
  • Gradually increase the duration of exercise for improving fitness and endurance.
  • Aerobic exercises are the most effective way to burn calories. Aerobic exercises increase your metabolism and reduce excess body fat.
  • Wear a pedometer to track your activity and calories burnt.

2. Healthy diet plan

Eating a healthy diet, along with exercise, is the best way to reduce your body weight healthily. Consult a dietitian and get a customized health plan and follow it. Avoid high-calorie food and consume more low-calorie food. Eat more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Limiting alcohol and sweets is a must for weight loss. Limit your snacks and eat three regular meals. Have some self-control to consume sweets and high-calorie foods only once a day. This will help you stay motivated in the long run and help you avoid the health risk of being overweight.

  • There is no guarantee that a weight-loss diet will work the same for all. So consult a dietician for a complete weight-loss diet plan. Dieticians will assess your activity and food intake and prescribe a diet chart. 
  • 1200 – 1500 calories are required for a woman and 1500- 1800 calories for men per day for maintaining a healthy body. After consulting with your dietician, decide on the number of calories you want to cut from the food.
  • Try some foods that will make you feel full with fewer calories. Eating large portions of vegetables and fruits will reduce your hunger pangs and feel better. Reduce consuming desserts, candies, and processed foods and increase more fruit intake.
  • Meal replacements are another choice to reduce the calories in the food. Replace high-calorie bars with low-calories shakes or meal bars. Meal replacements will support your healthy weight gain, and you should take care not to consume more than the recommended level.
  • Limit the consumption of sugar and salt. Eat less amount of fat and include more protein sources in the food. Beans, lentils, soy, and lean meat are excellent sources of protein. Try to consume them at least twice a week. Choose heart-healthy sources like canola oil, olive, and nut oils for cooking. 

3. Avoid parties and food traps

Identifying what you eat, how you eat, and when you eat will help you develop the best strategies to reduce body weight. You should identify situations that trigger unlimited food consumption and avoid them. Avoid things that will make you lose control and increase more food intake than required.

4. Body weight monitor

Bodyweight monitoring is the best feature that keeps people motivated to shed more weight. You can measure your weight and can confirm whether the efforts are helping to reduce body weight or not.

5. Consistency 

Along with the above factors, try to follow a healthy diet plan throughout the week and even on weekends for better results.

Overweight and obesity affect the physical and mental well-being of individuals. Almost one in three adults is overweight, and one in ten is obese. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are the only two ways to reduce body weight and the health risks of being overweight. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What is Body Mass Index (BMI)?

A. Body Mass Index is the measure of the body’s fat based on the height and weight of men and women. It is an indicator of body fat and not the actual measure.

Q. What is the BMI for healthy, overweight, and obese individuals?

A. The BMI ranges between A) 18.5 – 24.9 – healthy individuals, B) 25.0 – 29.9 – overweight, C) > 30.0 – obese.

Q. What are the other factors associated with obesity?

A. Variation in cholesterol level, blood sugar level, age, gender, family history of heart disease, waist circumference, menopause status, physical activity level, and smoking habits are associated with health risk.

Q. How can an obese person healthily reduce weight?

A. Not all exercise and diet plans reduce body weight. They will vary from person to person. It is always best to consult a dietician and a health coach to monitor your body weight and help you in weight loss.

About the Author

I, Dr. Poonam have 3+ years of experience in the field of Medicine. Currently serving as a Resident Physician at HealthifyMe, I have worked with premier hospitals such as Manipal Hospital, Bangalore as a Resident in Plastic and Reconstructive surgery and Rajiv Gandhi Government Hospital, Chennai as a Medical Officer. I aspire to put my knowledge in medicine to use in providing healthcare and fitness services to people and help enhance my abilities in meeting the ever-growing healthcare needs.

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