Weight Management and Aging: The Impact of Extra Pounds on Our Health
We know how being overweight makes us feel. Clothes do not fit the way we’d like them to, and we find that the more weight we carry, the less energy we have. We don’t feel good, and we attribute that exclusively to our appearance, but not necessarily with other underlying health conditions that are associated with being overweight.
Our progress as a developed society has much to do with our increasing battle against obesity. Diseases like type 2 diabetes mellitus, coronary heart disease, dementia and even certain types of cancer have increased markedly, since the 1970s. What changed is that we move less, burning fewer calories, while consuming almost twice the average calories (or more) than our bodies can efficiently process. The math of calories in versus calories burn no longer adds-up; and that has contributed to our current battle against obesity.
Staying informed and learning more about the negative health impacts, can help motivate you to look at weight-loss as an important health issue. Here are three ways that extra body fat impacts our health and well being.
- Insulin Resistance and Diabetes
As our body weight and fat ratio increases, the storage of triglyceride in and around the major organs in the abdominal area increases, particularly in the liver and pancreas. And that’s bad news because our liver is responsible for some very important functions, including the production of bile for digestion, and filtering blood through the digestive tract to detoxify chemicals.
Produced and released by the pancreas, insulin is key regulator, that manages the levels of glucose in the body, and it also manages our absorption of healthy fatty acids (lipogenesis). Beta cells in the pancreas signal cells to absorb sugar from the bloodstream, when food or beverages are consumed. It is the key that allows our body to use sugar for energy, and obesity impairs that functioning. Over time, diabetics lose insulin sensitivity and may develop the need to depend exclusively on medical insulin.
- Coronary Heart Disease and Stroke
In 1997, the American Heart Association (AHA) published a report that confirmed obesity was a modifiable (fixable) factor that contributed significantly to increased cardiovascular health risks, including heart attach and stroke. The study suggested that individuals with a BMI greater than 30 may experience early morbidity (shorter life spans) than those that maintained a healthy body weight.
Abdominal fat is particularly damaging to the heart. Read about a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in 2018, which outlines results from clinical research on 500,000 individuals. Women who carried more weight around the mid-section of their body, had a 10% to 20% higher risk of heart attack, than women who had excess weight dispersed evenly throughout the body.
- Osteoarthritis and Bone Health
Do you know someone who has had a knee replacement surgery? There is a strong correlation between excess body weight and Osteoarthritis, a painful inflammatory bone and joint condition that more than 27 million Americans have, according to population health data from 2018.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (HANES I) revealed that women who were overweight had four-times the risk of developing Osteoarthritis of the knee. Individuals carrying a significant amount of extra weight, may be prone to 10 times the risk of developing the debilitating and painful condition.
Did you know that the United States is the global leader, accounting for 13% of individuals with obesity worldwide? Right now, there are an estimated 160 million Americans who are overweight or clinically obese; 75% of them are men, 60% are women, and a shocking 30% of them are children aged twenty years or younger.
Losing weight becomes more difficult as we get older but encourage yourself to stick to your weight-loss program and find resources and support to help you achieve it. This important step will help you improve your quality of life and longevity, by reducing your risk for weight associated health risks now, and in the future.