Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Why does being obese cause so many health problems?"
My mother is obese and I?m very nervous about her. I know she is at risk for diabetes and other disease. Why does being obese cause so many health problems? Should I take her to a doctor about exercising and eating better?
You are absolutely right to have concerns about your mother's obesity and how it affects her overall health. Obesity is a major problem in developed nations. About a third of our population is obese, which causes a number of health problems you have alluded to in your question. Some health problems have direct links while the others are just associations. For example, obese individuals almost always have cardiovascular and endocrine problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and joint diseases like arthritis. High blood pressure or diabetes alone can cause multiple other problems which can be life threatening (i.e. stroke or heart attack). Attacking this problem head-on with drastic weight reduction may solve a lot of these pre-existing problems and lead to improving an overall health and longevity. Losing weight purely by diet is often difficult. Exercise is often a challenge because joints and self-image problems prevent these individuals from getting any sort of cardiovascular work out. But if they are able to do it with proper dieting and exercise, it would be ideal. For those who are not in that category or who have failed diet and lifestyle changes, bariatric surgery can be a good option. The individuals can potentially lose up to 50-80% of their excess body weight. Many can sustain this weight loss with proper nutritional and medical counseling. I suggest that you have your mother to visit a primary care physician who can refer to the appropriate specialist should she be a good candidate.
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