Recent figures show that two-thirds of U.S. adults (and one-third of children and teens) are either overweight or obese. Yet millions of Americans are unaware of the many ways obesity can impact their health. Exceeding your recommended BMI can elevate your risk of developing all sorts of medical problems—everything from cancer to infertility.
1. Vicious Cycle: Arthritis
A recent poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research , revealed that while nearly three-fourths of those polled were aware that being overweight can increase one’s risk of heart disease and diabetes, only 15 percent were aware that obesity can lead to arthritis. Once saddled with arthritis, obese individuals cut down on their exercise and become even more obese. Surprisingly, nearly a quarter of those polled were under the impression that one can be substantially overweight and still be in good health.
2. Gut Fat Linked to Cancer
A scant 7 percent of those polled were aware that obesity could increase their risk of developing colon, breast, prostate and uterine cancers. In a CBS News article, Dr. Christopher Desch, a medical oncologist in Richmond, Virginia, noted that being overweight could make it more difficult to spot tumors early, catch recurring tumors, or determine the optimal chemotherapy dosage. Fat cells do more than just store fat; they can produce surges of proteins and insulin that may trigger out-of-control growth in certain types of cells. Fat cells also make estrogen, which can be a fuel for breast cancer. The worst offender is the visceral fat that builds up in the abdomen, since it’s most metabolically active.
3. Infertility & Pregnancy Problems
Many women were completely unaware that obesity can lead to infertility. A Nurses’ Health Study revealed that infertility rose with higher BMIs. This study even went so far as to imply that a quarter of ovulatory infertility in the U.S. might be tied to obesity. Being obese also elevates the risk of an early or late miscarriage, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and delivery complications.