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Obesity Health Conditions

Obesity-related health conditions, also called comorbidities, can significantly reduce your life expectancy. Below is a partial list of some of the more common comorbidities associated with obesity. Your doctor can provide you with a more detailed and complete list.

Type 2 Diabetes

Many obese individuals develop a resistance to insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels. Over time, the resulting high blood sugar can cause life-threatening complications. The likelihood of developing diabetes is greatly reduced as ones weight is decreased.

Sleep Apnea/Respiratory Problems

Fat deposits in the tongue and neck can cause intermittent obstruction of air passage. Because the obstruction is increased when sleeping on your back, you may find yourself waking frequently to reposition yourself. The resulting loss of sleep often results in daytime drowsiness and headaches.

High Blood Pressure/Heart Disease

Excess body weight strains the ability of the heart to function properly. The resulting high blood pressure can result in stroke as well as heart and kidney disease.


Weight gain increases abdominal pressure, and that pressure pushes stomach contents into the esophagus. When stomach acid escapes into the esophagus, the result is called reflux. Heartburn, or acid indigestion, is a common symptom. Approximately 10-15 percent of patients with even mild sporadic symptoms of heartburn will develop a condition called Barrett's esophagus, which is a pre-malignant change in the lining membrane of the esophagus, a cause of esophageal cancer.


The additional weight placed on joints, particularly the knees and hips, results in rapid wear and tear, causing pain and inflammation. Similarly, weight strains the bones and muscles of the back resulting in disc problems, pain and decreased mobility.

Urinary Stress Incontinence

The accumulation of extra weight in the midsection puts added pressure on your bladder, increasing your chances of experiencing urinary stress incontinence. The additional pressure makes your bladder more likely to leak, especially when coughing, kneeling, laughing or sneezing.


Being overweight can lead to abnormal hormone issues, which can affect reproduction in both women and men. In women, it can cause the body to produce too much insulin, which may cause irregular ovulation. There is also a link between obesity and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is associated with irregular menstrual cycles, decreased or stopped ovulation, obesity and elevated levels of male hormones. In men, high BMI has been linked to decreased levels of testosterone and abnormal semen.


Obese individuals are more likely to be clinically depressed. Physicians and researchers are continuing to study this link to determine if the relationship between obesity and depression is related to the emotions and stress that are related to being overweight or whether there is a biochemical connection.