WEIGHT AND YOUR HEALTH
If you’re carrying many extra pounds, you face a higher-than-average risk of a whopping 50 different health problems. These health conditions include the nation’s leading causes of death—heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and certain cancers—as well as less common ailments such as gout and gallstones. Perhaps even more compelling is the strong link between excess weight and depression, because this common mood disorder can have a profound, negative impact on your daily life.A Harvard study that combined data from more than 50,000 men (participants in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study) and more than 120,000 women (from the Nurses’ Health Study) revealed some sobering statistics about weight and health.The volunteers provided their height and weight, as well as details on their diets, health habits, and medical histories. Researchers tracked the volunteers over more than 10 years. They noted the occurrence of illnesses and compared those developments with each subject’s body mass index (BMI)—an estimate of an individual’s relative body fat calculated from his or her height and weight).Obesity increased the risk of diabetes 20 times and substantially boosted the risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and gallstones. Among people who were overweight or obese, there was a direct relationship between BMI and risk: the higher the BMI, the higher the likelihood of disease.
Weight, heart disease, and stroke
Some of the most common problems seen in people who carry excess weight, such as high blood pressure and unhealthy levels of cholesterol and other fats in the blood, tend to occur together. Both can lead to concurrent health problems—namely, heart disease and stroke. High blood pressure is about six times more common in people who are obese than in those who are lean. According to the American Heart Association, 22 pounds of excess weight boosts systolic blood pressure (the first number in a reading)...