|Heart Disease and Stroke
Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death and
disability for both men and women in the United States. Overweight
people are more likely to have high blood pressure, a major risk
factor for heart disease and stroke, than people who are not
high blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides (blood fats)
can also lead to heart disease and often are linked to being
overweight. Being overweight also contributes to angina (chest
pain caused by decreased oxygen to the heart) and sudden death
from heart disease or stroke without any signs or symptoms.
The good news is that losing a small amount of weight can
reduce your chances of developing heart disease or a stroke.
Reducing your weight by 10 percent can decrease your chance of
developing heart disease by improving how your heart works, blood
pressure, and levels of blood cholesterol and triglycerides.
Noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (type 2 diabetes) is the
most common type of diabetes in the United States. Type 2 diabetes
reduces your body's ability to control your blood sugar. It is a
major cause of early death, heart disease, kidney disease, stroke,
and blindness. Overweight people are twice as likely to develop
type 2 diabetes as people who are not overweight. You can reduce
your risk of developing this type of diabetes by losing weight and
by increasing your physical activity.
If you have type 2 diabetes, losing weight and becoming more
physically active can help control your blood sugar levels. If you
use medicine to control your blood sugar, weight loss and physical
activity may make it possible for your doctor to decrease the
amount of medication you need.
Several types of cancer are associated with being overweight.
In women, these include cancer of the uterus, gallbladder, cervix,
ovary, breast, and colon. Overweight men are at greater risk for
developing cancer of the colon, rectum, and prostate. For some
types of cancer, such as colon or breast, it is not clear whether
the increased risk is due to the extra weight or to a high-fat and
is a serious condition that is closely associated with being
overweight. Sleep apnea can cause a person to stop breathing for
short periods during sleep and to snore heavily. Sleep apnea may
cause daytime sleepiness and even heart failure. The risk for
sleep apnea increases with higher body weights. Weight loss
usually improves sleep apnea.
is a common joint disorder that most often affects the joints in
your knees, hips, and lower back. Extra weight appears to increase
the risk of osteoarthritis by placing extra pressure on these
joints and wearing away the cartilage (tissue that cushions the
joints) that normally protects them. Weight loss can decrease
stress on the knees, hips, and lower back and may improve the
symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Gout is a joint disease caused by high levels of uric acid in
the blood. Uric acid sometimes forms into solid stone or crystal
masses that become deposited in the joints. Gout is more common in
overweight people and the risk of developing the disorder
increases with higher body weights.
Note: Over the short term, some diets may lead to an
attack of gout in people who have high levels of uric acid or who
have had gout before. If you have a history of gout, check with
your doctor or other health professional before trying to lose
Gallbladder disease and gallstones are more common if you are
overweight. Your risk of disease increases as your weight
increases. It is not clear how being overweight may cause
Weight loss itself, particularly rapid weight loss or loss of a
large amount of weight, can actually increase your chances of
developing gallstones. Modest, slow weight loss of about 1 pound a
week is less likely to cause gallstones.