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  • Writer's pictureVineeta Malik

Weight Matters - 3

We now know how obesity can affect our metabolic profile[1] and disrupt our bodily functions (if you haven’t already, do read Parts 1 and 2 of this post). There is another way by which fat can affect our health: the physical stress due to the excess weight on different body parts. Obesity can lead to the following medical conditions:

· osteoarthritis

· back pain

· obstructive sleep apnea

· restrictive lung disease

· gastroesophageal reflux disease

· hernias

· chronic venous insufficiency.

Let’s explore some of these in more detail:

Obesity and Osteoarthritis

Image by Wolfgang Claussen from Pixabay

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most frequent joint disorder worldwide and one of the leading causes of chronic pain and disability.

Obesity is a major risk factor for knee OA.

Joints such as the knee, ankle, hips, and those between our vertebrae are called weight-bearing joints: as we stand, sit, walk, run etc., these joints support the entire weight of our body. Day-to-day activities put a lot of load on our weight-bearing joints, leading to damage of cartilage and ligaments. This process starts as early as in our 30s and continues over several years until it starts to manifest as disability, and we start feeling pain and stiffness in our joints.

Overall, the lifetime risk of symptomatic knee OA increases with BMI. It is suggested that each additional point increase in BMI above 27 kg/m2 increases our OA risk by 15%. Excess weight is also strongly related to progression of the disease, and eventual disability.

Not only that, obesity also appears to increase the risk of hip and hand osteoarthritis.

Obesity and the Respiratory System

Increased body weight, and specifically central obesity (fat deposited in the stomach, waist and hip area), adversely effects our respiration. This is due to the mechanical pressure of weight on thoracic cage, leaving less space for the lungs to expand and pull in air. Remember, Indians typically have central obesity and are therefore more prone to its impact on the respiratory system.

We have to exert more effort to breathe, putting in additional stress on the respiratory system. In addition to impacting respiratory capacity, obesity can further cause or aggravate the following diseases

· obstructive sleep apnea

· obesity hypoventilation syndrome

· asthma

· chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Photo by Unsplash

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a disease in which the patient has repeated episodes of apnea/hypopnea (absence of or reduced breathing), during sleep.

Symptoms of OSA can be snoring, choking episodes, poor quality of sleep, daytime fatigue and sleepiness, impaired concentration, irritability, and personality changes. It is also associated with increased risk of vehicle accidents.

In India, obese individuals have nearly four times higher risk of having OSA as compared to non-obese individuals. Studies have found a prevalence rate of 3.5-13.7% for OSA in India[2].

In all likelihood, you might be having some member in your family who is overweight/obese and suffers from snoring and sleep difficulties.

Obesity, especially central, is a major risk factor for OSA.

We know that good quality sleep is a core component of LSM, and OSA directly impacts it.

Not only this, these mechanical complications are further affected by the adverse metabolic profile in obesity. The less our respiratory reserve, the less physically active we are likely to be, and the fatter we get. Now isn’t that a vicious cycle?

The only way to break this cycle is to take care of your body and show it the love it deserves, to take control of your nutrition, your weight, and your health.

This completes our overview of the main illnesses associated with obesity and being overweight. If you are overweight or obese currently and do not have these illnesses, you might still be having one or more of these symptoms:

· breathlessness

· snoring

· feeling tired and lethargic

· back and joint pains

· low confidence and self esteem

· feeling isolated

So even if you do not have any of these illnesses currently, you are still at a higher risk to develop them at some point in time. The time to act is now!

I would urge you to protect your future, and to get a new lease of life by getting rid of these pains, this lethargy and this lack of stamina. In our clinic, we start with a thorough evaluation to estimate your degree of risk for the various illnesses, and then plan a comprehensive program to bring your BMI and body composition under normal range, significantly reducing your risk for developing these obesity-related diseases.

Take care!


[1] Metabolism is the sum of chemical reactions that take place in living cells, providing energy for life processes and the synthesis of cellular material. Metabolic profile of a person characterizes the metabolism of that person, through various parameters such as glucose level, electrolyte and fluid balance, kidney function, and liver function. [2] Sharma et al. Epidemiology of adult obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome in India. Indian J Med Res 131, February 2010, pp 171-175

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