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Health Hazards of Morbid Obesity

Severe obesity damages the body by its mechanical, metabolic and physiological adverse effects on normal body functioning. These "co-morbidities" affect nearly every organ in the body in some way, and produce serious secondary illnesses, which may also be life threatening. The cumulative effect of these co-morbidities can interfere with a normal and productive life and can shorten life as well. The risk of developing these medical problems is proportional to the degree of obesity.

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  • People who are obese do not live for as long as those who are not obese and the earlier a person become obese; the more years of life are lost.
  • Heart Disease- Severely obese persons are approximately 6 times as likely to develop heart disease as those who are of normal weight. Heart disease is the leading cause of death today and obese persons tend to develop it earlier in life.
  • High Blood Pressure- Hypertension is much more common in obese persons and leads to development of heart disease, and damage to the blood vessels throughout the body, causing susceptibility to strokes, kidney damage, and hardening of the arteries.
  • Diabetes Mellitus- Overweight persons are 40 times as likely to develop Type 2, Adult-onset diabetes. Once diabetes occurs, it becomes even harder to lose weight, because of hormone changes which causes higher fat accumulation in the body.
  • Sleep Apnea Syndrome- Sleep apnea – the stoppage of breathing during sleep – is commonly caused in the obese, by compression of the neck, closing the air passage to the lungs.
  • Respiratory Insufficiency.
  • Heartburn - Reflux Disease and Reflux Nocturnal Aspiration.
  • Asthma and Bronchitis.
  • Gallbladder Disease -Gallbladder disease occurs more frequently in the obese, in part due to repeated efforts at dieting, which predispose one to this problem.
  • Stress Urinary Incontinence.
  • Degenerative Disease of Lumbo-Sacral Spine (Backbone).
  • Degenerative Arthritis of weight bearing joints like knee and hip.
  • Venous Stasis Disease in the lower extremities.
  • Emotional/Psychological Illness- Extremely overweight persons face constant challenges to their emotions: repeated failure with dieting, disapproval from family and friends, and remarks from strangers. They often experience discrimination at work. Stereotypes of obese people – such as that they are lazy – may result in lower self esteem and poor body image.
  • Social Effects- Severely obese persons suffer inability to qualify for many types of employment and there tends to be a higher rate of unemployment among them. There is a general societal belief that obesity is a consequence of a lack of self-discipline, or moral weakness.