Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes

One of the most dramatic medical complications resulting from obesity is Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes and obesity are closely linked: severe obesity increases the chances of developing type 2 diabetes by more than fifty times.  According to the American Diabetes Association nearly 9 out of 10 people with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes are overweight. In fact, childhood obesity accounts for a forty percent increase in type 2 diabetes, a medical condition that was once considered an adult disease. 

Hormones produced by fat tissue (adipose tissue) have been linked to the onset of type 2 diabetes:  either (1) the body loses its ability to produce insulin or (2) the cells ignore the insulin. In either case, the cells become energy starved. Type 2 diabetes has its own complications, including blindness, nerve damage, kidney damage and hypertension.


Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a medical complication of type 2 diabetes and obesity, and a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Even a weight gain of thirty pounds is enough to raise blood pressure. High blood pressure alters blood chemistry, causing blood clots.


Osteoarthritis is often referred to as "wear and tear" arthritis. Over time the joint cartilage wears down, resulting in bone-to-bone contact and discomfort. Degenerative arthritis is common among obese individuals, due to the increased stress on weight bearing joints, knees and back. That, in turn, causes pain and eventually loss of mobility.

A significant correlation between uric acid levels and weight has been found. The chance of gout is dramatically increased when a patient’s weight is greater than 130% above the desirable weight. Weight loss will markedly decrease potential problems.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition in which breathing during sleep becomes difficult, often because of extra weight. Snoring is a common sign of sleep apnea, and the sleeper may stop breathing for up to a minute at a time. Sleep apnea increases the chances of fatal heart attacks. People also tend to wake up when breathing resumes, often several times a night. This leads to daytime fatigue and sleepiness. Chronic fatigue weakens the immune system, increasing health risks.


The numbers are in. Obesity is one of the highest and most preventable risk factors for certain cancers.  People battling obesity are more susceptible to a variety of cancers. Women are three times as likely to develop breast, uterine, ovarian and cervical cancer. Men are at higher risk for prostate and colon cancer.

Cardiovascular Disease

Research indicates that for each 10% increase in body weight there is an approximate 20% increase in the incidence of coronary artery disease. The problem is also complicated with the higher incidence of hypertension and high cholesterol levels in obese individuals.

Pulmonary Abnormalities

Obese individuals are at higher risk for developing pulmonary health problems, including COPD. These problems can range in severity form reversible conditions to irreversible damage. For example, decrease in lung volumes can lead to shortness of breath and feelings of air hunger during physical activities.  Sleep apnea, a condition noted as waking up to catch your breath, is more common among obese individuals. Other permanent changes can take place which may not improve or reverse with weight loss.

Psychological Issues

Impairment of body image is a major form of psychological disturbance for the obese. In addition, repeated failure of diet and exercise increases the feeling of despair and depression. Immobility and physical incapacity due to back/joint problems and shortness of breath are major contributors to the lifestyle restrictions most obese individuals face. These factors can also contribute to absenteeism and unemployment.  In addition, prejudice against obese individuals is a challenge that overweight people must face on a daily bases.


The solution to 68% of cancer deaths is weight management.

Medical Complications of Obesity

And Obesity Prevention

The medical reasons for avoiding weight gain have been well documented by obesity research. The good news is that even a ten-pound drop in weight can reduce your chances of developing medical complications like type 2 diabetes.

Controlling Your Weight Is Especially Important

•if you have a family history of diabetes, heart disease or other chronic disease

•if you suffer from hypertension, high cholesterol or high blood sugar levels

•if you have an "apple" shape (your weight tends to gather around the waist). Apple-shaped people are at greater risk for heart disease than "pear-shaped" people.

19 Common Medical Complications of Obesity

Certain medical complications are aggravated by weight gain. Please note that this list by no means covers all obesity consequences.

•Joint, hip and back problems


•Type 2 diabetes



•GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease; acid reflux disease)

•Heart disease

•High cholesterol



•Kidney disease

•Liver disease


•Pregnancy complications

•Restricted mobility

•Sleep apnea


•Surgical complications

•Urinary stress incontinence


Obesity causes many health risks and medical complications.


There Are Medical Risks Related To Obesity

Health complications associated with obesity are many, and well documented by the medical community, healthcare providers, the insurance industry and the U.S. government Centers For Disease Control  and Prevention (CDC).

Their conclusions are all the same: the more weight that a person gains and carries, the greater the likelihood there is of developing obesity-related health problems. The complications of obesity and morbid obesity can be life threatening.

7 Obesity-Related Health Complications

Occur As A Result Of Several Interrelated Factors

  1. 1. For every 10 pounds a person is overweight, an extra 10 mg of cholesterol is produced daily.

  2. 2. Increased cholesterol is associated with heart disease and     gallstones.

  3. 3. Fat tissues release substances that increase the chances of developing Type 2 diabetes.

  4. 4. What most people don't realize is that the weight you see on the outside of your body also exists on the inside.  Fat cells invade valuable space occupied by vital organs.

  5. 5. This organ overcrowding prevents normal circulation and organ function, and can disrupt normal body functions. 

  6. 6. Obesity, especially severe obesity, reduces a person’s mobility and freedom of movement, making people more accident-prone.

  7. 7. Then there are the day-to-day pressures and stresses that excess weight demands of the body itself to accomplish even basic tasks like walking and breathing.


American Obesity Association. (2002). Health effects of obesity. AOA (Agency on Aging) Fact Sheet.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases—Weight-Control Information Network. (2004, November). Do you know the health risks of being overweight? [NIH Publication No. 04-4098].

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases—Weight-Control Information Network. (2001, October). Understanding adult obesity [NIH Publication No.01-3680].

Stanford Hospital & Clinics. (nd). Health effects of obesity.  Provides Free, Reliable Senior Information and Resources

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19 Medical Complications Of Obesity

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