Obesity is both a lifestyle disease as well as a disease of affluence. While obesity is often linked to over-eating and not getting enough exercise, there are many other factors too, that lead to obesity. Not getting enough sleep, ethnicity, age, hormonal changes, and genetics are some of them.
Being obese obviously means you look unfit. People tend to discriminate against, judge or make fun of people who are obese or overweight. But these are not the only problems such people have to face.
We all know that obesity leads to increased levels of cholesterol and high blood pressure. Many of us are aware of keeping LDL and HDL cholesterol levels in check. Obesity also increases the risk for stroke and heart disease. Obesity can lead to many other serious illnesses like gall stones and respiratory problems.
Listed below are some diseases that women may have to deal with alongside battling obesity.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS, and obesity are linked to each other. While obesity may lead to PCOS in some women, women with a normal body weight and diagnosed with PCOS may become obese later on.
PCOS affects around 5- 10% of women who are in the reproductive age. PCOS is a hormonal disorder and is named so because of the formation of cysts on the outer edges of the ovaries.
Symptoms of this disease vary in individuals. The presence of main symptoms such as the formation of cysts, production of excess androgen (male hormone) and irregularity in menstrual cycle helps in diagnosis.
PCOS is also associated with insulin resistance. Women gain weight and face difficulty in losing it due to the inability of insulin to control the levels of blood sugar.
Insulin, secreted by the pancreas, helps cells convert glucose into energy. Recent studies suggest that fat cells release ‘pro-inflammatory’ chemicals into the blood stream. These chemicals disrupt the way the body reacts to insulin.
As the cells stop reacting to insulin, the pancreas secretes more insulin to counteract this effect. Ultimately, the pancreases are over-worked and the amount of blood sugar remains high.
Uncontrolled high blood sugar poses many complications. Large blood vessels in the legs, heart, and brain can be damaged. Damage to small blood vessels can lead to problems in vision, kidney failure, etc. In severe cases, amputation of affected limb becomes necessary.
Excess of insulin and insulin resistance are main factors when it comes to infertility issues in obese women. There is also an increased risk of miscarriages in women whose BMI ratio is over 30. Assisted reproductive technologies may also be impaired in the case of obese women.
The fat deposited around the woman's abdomen has been found to produce male hormones known as androgens. These hormones cause anovulation by preventing follicular maturation.
Fat cells also produce estrogen. Too much of this hormone will lead to your body thinking that it is on birth control pills. This will stop ovulation. Inadequate ovulation further leads to LPD (Luteal Phase Defect). The luteal phase is the time between ovulation and menses, and is about 14 days long. Disruption of this cycle leads to infertility.
Osteoarthritis is a very common type of arthritis. It is a progressive disease with no known cure. The symptoms of osteoarthritis worsen with time and the available medication and therapies only help to alleviate swelling and pain.
Osteoarthritis is characterized by bony growths around joints, damaged cartilages, and synovitis- is the inflammation of tissues surrounding the affected joint.
The disease may affect any joint in the body. The hands, lower back, neck, knees and hips are the most affected joints. Obese women are 4 times more prone to knee osteoarthritis than women who have their body weight under control.
If you are overweight, knee osteoarthritis can strike any time. Do something about your weight right now if you don’t want to give up walking and ride on a go go scooter instead.
Another growing problem is sleep apnea. This is a disorder wherein a person's air passage becomes obstructed during sleeping. If you happen to snore loudly while you sleep, it is possible you have sleep apnea.
People suffering from sleep apnea may experience cessation of breathing at times. This triggers the brain to wake up the person so that he can resume normal breathing activity. As such, a person is unable to experience deep, restorative sleep.
When this continues over a prolonged period of time, the person tends to become moody and may experience fatigue. It is common for the person to fall asleep during the day at times of inactivity. This may also happen while the person is driving. Due to not getting adequate sleep, hormonal changes can make the person feel hungry and eat more.
This is a vicious circle where obesity leads to sleep apnea or individuals with sleep apnea eventually become obese. Sleep deprivation also worsens existing problems such as elevated levels of blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol.
Studies have shown that obese female subjects who lost just 5% of their total weight had reduced their insulin sensitivity by a whopping 71%. The hormones in their bodies were regulated, menstruation and ovulation cycles had been restored to normal, pregnancy rates were improved, over 10% of abdominal fat had gone and waist measurements were reduced by 4 cm.
The number of women suffering from obesity continues to increase. If you are just slightly overweight, don't put off exercising and eating right. The earlier you start taking care of yourself, the better. You can easily calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI) ratio to find out if you are obese. This is nothing but the measure of your body fat in relation to your height and weight. If your BMI ratio is above 30, you are obese.