The Dangers of Obesity

The Dangers of Obesity

By Diane Cummins on April 3, 2023

Obesity is far more than a cosmetic concern. Obesity is a complex disease that occurs when a person develops an excess amount of body fat. Obesity differs from being overweight, which is defined by having a weight that is higher than what is considered healthy for a given height. 

Did you know that not all overweight people are obese? In fact, it is possible to be overweight and metabolically healthy.  However, a person cannot be obese and metabolically healthy. Obesity impacts the body in many harmful ways. Thirteen types of cancer and 200 other health conditions have been linked to obesity (Bartosch, 2022), including diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Obesity is an epidemic in the United States. Currently, 4 in 10 American adults have obesity, and obesity rates are continuing to climb nationwide (Trust for America’s Health, 2022). In nineteen states, the adult obesity rate exceeds 35 percent, with West Virginia, Kentucky, and Alabama having the highest rates of adult obesity at 40.6 percent, 40.3 percent, and 39.9 percent, respectively. To put this into perspective, a decade ago, no state had an adult obesity rate at or above 35 percent (Trust for America’s Health, 2022).

Obesity occurs when a person consumes more calories than he or she burns through normal daily activities and exercise. Those excess calories are stored as fat. When too many calories are eaten each day repeatedly, a person develops more and more body fat. This results in obesity. In the United States, most people's diets are too high in calories — often from fast food and high-calorie beverages, such as full-sugar sodas and lattes. Additionally, many people living in Western countries have jobs that are sedentary in nature, so they do not tend to burn many calories at work. Even daily activities use fewer calories due to the convenience of such amenities as remote controls, escalators, and online shopping.

Obesity tends to run in families. There are two main reasons for this: 

In some people, obesity can be traced to a medical cause, such as Prader-Willi syndrome, Cushing syndrome and other conditions. Medical problems, such as arthritis, also can lead to decreased activity, which may result in weight gain. Some medications can lead to weight gain if you don't compensate through diet or activity. These medications include some antidepressants, diabetes medications, anti-seizure medications, steroids, antipsychotic medications, and beta blockers.

There are several long-term health consequences of obesity. Illnesses resulting from obesity are among the leading causes of preventable, premature death. People with obesity are more likely to develop several potentially serious health problems, including:

Following a healthy eating plan that involves eating fewer calories is often the first step in trying to treat obesity. People who have obesity should also start regular physical activity when they begin their healthy eating plan. Being active will help burn extra calories. Regular physical activity can also help people maintain a healthy weight.

Changing one’s eating and physical activity habits and lifestyle is difficult, but with a plan, effort, regular support, and patience, it is possible to lose weight and improve overall health. Here are some tips on ways to lose weight, engage in regular physical activity, and improve health over the long-term.


Bartosh, J. (2022, August 24). Can you be overweight and healthy? University of Chicago Medicine.,conditions%20are%20related%20to%20obesity.

Trust for America’s Health. (2022). The state of obesity: Better policies for a healthier America. chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/