With 67% of the American population either overweight or obese, getting to a healthy weight has become a national obsession. We see advertisements everywhere, on television, on the radio, in social media and online. All of them offering different ways to lose weight, whether it’s through pills, a piece of equipment, an exercise DVD or a diet plan. And they all focus on becoming skinny. Body image is important, but becoming skinny is not the most important aspect of weight loss.
Being overweight effects all aspects of your health, from physical to mental. Research has shown that being overweight or obese can greatly increase your chances of developing several different conditions and disorders.
One of the main diseases related to obesity is heart disease. Heart disease is caused by elevated cholesterol levels. The cholesterol clings to your artery walls causing plaque buildup, which reduces or blocks blood flow to your heart. This can lead to a heart attack.
Heart disease is directly related to diet and indirectly related to exercise. If you follow a healthy diet of low-fat foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean cuts of meats, whole grains and low-fat dairy, and are physically active 30 minutes a day, not only will this decrease your weight, but decrease your chances of developing heart disease.
Another common problem from being overweight or obese is developing type II diabetes. Diabetes is a disease in which your blood glucose (blood sugar) levels are too high. Normally, the body uses a compound called insulin to move blood glucose into the body’s cells where glucose is used as an energy source. With type II diabetes, either the body is not producing enough insulin to transport the glucose or the body’s cells ignore the insulin molecule. This causes a buildup of glucose in the blood. Diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and blindness. But by following a healthy diet and exercise program, you can decrease your chances of developing type II diabetes.
Being overweight or obese can also effect your joints. Osteoarthritis is a painful condition where the cartilage in your joints wears down over time. The cartilage provides a cushion in our joints to absorb the shock and pounding of moving bodies to keep these stresses off the bones. When the cartilage wears away, the bone directly absorbs the shock causing a large amount of pain and swelling in the joint. The stress of the extra weight on joints causes the cartilage to wear away at a quicker rate so osteoarthritis is developed at a faster rate in the overweight population.
The risk of developing sleep disorders, specifically sleep apnea, increases with being overweight. Sleep apnea is when a person stops breathing several times while asleep. When a person is overweight, they tend to have more fat stored around the neck. This extra weight can actually depress airways and cause obstructions in breathing when lying down. Sleep apnea causes disruptions in sleep, leaving a person feeling fatigued throughout the day. It can also lead to high blood pressure, memory problems and headaches.
By losing weight, a person can decrease their risk of developing all of these disorders. Not only will body image increase, but health will too. And that’s a great reason to lose weight, the healthy way.