It's very easy to put on extra pounds, especially in a society that places many demands on individuals. For most people, going to work and taking care of a family leave little time for self-care. Before you know it you have to buy new clothes to accommodate the increasing size of your body. Once you begin to pack on the pounds you feel more tired and the thought of exercising seems even more daunting than it once did. It is important to understand that the repercussions of being overweight extend far beyond appearance, and can actually lead to the development of nine dangerous (and sometimes deadly) diseases outlined below:
• Type II Diabetes Mellitus: The human body has many systems in place to regulate itself. One of these regulators is the pancreas, which secretes insulin in response to the intake of glucose, or sugar. Insulin works like a "key" that opens a cell door and allows the glucose to be used by the body. This system works well if you pay attention to your body and stop eating when you are satisfied. However, if you do not, the pancreas stops secreting insulin and the glucose can no longer get into the cells to be used by the body, but remains in the bloodstream. This is type II diabetes, which increases the risk for infection, delays wound healing, can cause sensory losses, and many other significant problems.
• Hypertension: Your body is not able to use all of the fat as an energy source when you overeat, so it finds places to store the excess fat. You can observe this phenomenon on your legs and abdomen, but the body will also store fat inside blood vessels. These are the "pipes" of the body that carry blood from your heart to all of the organs and tissues to provide oxygen. If fat is stored in the vessels, this decreases the area for blood to flow through, leading to high blood pressure. This means the heart has to work much harder than it should to get the blood all of the places it needs to go.
• Cardiovascular Disease & Stroke: The longer the vessels are clogged, the greater potential for problems exists. The vessels become narrowed and hardened. Because all of the parts of your body do not get adequate oxygen, you can have various symptoms including shortness of breath, chest pain, as well as numbness, weakness, and coldness in your arms and legs. You are at an increased risk for a heart attack. Additionally, pieces of hardened fatty deposits, known as plaques, can break off and cause a stroke.
• Osteoarthritis: An increase above normal in body weight creates unnecessary stress to the joints of the body. In particular, the knee joints are impacted and osteoarthritis can develop as a result. This condition significantly compounds an already existing problem because osteoarthritis makes mobility burdensome and painful. Therefore, the likelihood of exercising is diminished. Completing the activities of daily life are difficult and the quality of life wanes.
• High Risk Pregnancy (Gestational Diabetes, Hypertension, & C-Section): The female body's capacity to grow a human being during pregnancy is a marvel and the resiliency of humanity is commonly observed in this condition. However, obesity in the pregnant mother can create an environment where a host of problems can brew, impacting the lives of both the mother and baby. Hypertension during pregnancy can be especially dangerous since blood flow to the fetus can be reduced. Obesity also puts women at a higher risk for cesarean section with all of the risks that accompany any surgery.
It is important to understand that obesity is not simply an issue of outward appearance. It impacts the body from the inside out, and can lead to life-altering and life-threatening conditions. Many people recognize when they have a problem, but feel overwhelmed by the thought of losing weight on their own. If you already have signs of a condition developing, then the need to lose weight is even more urgent.
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