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Obesity and the Gastrointestinal Tract: It's Not Good News

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The obesity rate in the United States continues to alarm the medical community, and it’s not so much the effect of extra pounds on a person’s appearance but its impact on the everyday functioning of the body, that has doctors worried.

Beyond the effect of obesity on the joints and cardiovascular system, there is its effect -- often harmful -- on the gastrointestinal tract. If you are battling a lot of extra weight or have a loved one who is, the obesity information page on the American College of Gastroenterology website can easily throw a scare into you.

First, how bad is the obesity rate? According to a headline in the August 26, 2011, Los Angeles Times, half of adults in the United States could be obese by 2030. That’s based on studies by the medical journal Lancet, which looked at 20 years of height and weight data to predict future obesity trends.

The Lancet forecasts a rise in obesity among women to 45 - 52 percent, from 35 percent a few years ago. For men, the rate could be as much as 50 percent, from 32 percent a few years ago. The upshot, the journal reported, would be millions more cases of diabetes, cancer and coronary heart disease.

Second, what deleterious effects from obesity is the medical community particularly concerned about, just focusing on the gastrointestinal tract? Here’s a breakdown from the ACG on conditions often linked to obesity:

-- Esophagus-related problems, including gastroesophageal reflux disease, erosive esophagitis, Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer

-- Gallbladder concerns, including gallstones and cancer

-- Pancreatic cancer

-- Colon health, including precancerous polyps and colorectal cancer

-- Liver problems, including nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), cirrhosis, liver cancer and advanced hepatitis C-related disease.

All of these conditions are worth reading up on, here at EmpowHER or on other reputable health websites.

The ACG said that many common gastrointestinal diseases are two to three times more likely to occur among the obese than among those of normal weight.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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