Obesity tied to increased risk for dozens of conditions
knee replacement surgery, and five times more likely to have high
blood pressure than women who are at a normal weight, shows a new
study that reveals the extent of risk to health caused by
It also found that men in the highest weight categories are eight times more likely to have diabetes, and six times more likely to have a knee replaced or have high blood pressure than normal-weight peers.
Almost one third of people living in the European Union are overweight and more than one in ten is now obese, according to European Association for the Study of Obesity. And the numbers of children who are overweight is set to rise from 20 per cent to 25 per cent by 2008, according to Datamonitor forecasts.
Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle used information provided by 73,003 adults aged 50 to 76 who lived in western Washington state.
They correlated obesity with 41 health conditions, including life-threatening conditions like heart failure; some, like high blood pressure, that increase the risk of more serious diseases; and health complaints that reduce the quality of life, like insomnia or chronic fatigue.
Lead author Ruth E. Patterson said: "No other study has provided data on the association of obesity with such a compendium of health conditions."
Writing in the December issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (vol 27, issue 5, pp 385-390), the researchers report that carrying extra weight was tied to 37 of the 41 health conditions studied in women and 29 of 41 conditions in men.
In addition to diabetes, knee replacement and high blood pressure, highly obese women were also more likely to have a history of heart failure, gall bladder removal, pulmonary embolism, chronic fatigue and insomnia.
However, these women also experienced slightly lower levels of osteoporotic fractures and constipation, Patterson said.
Highly obese men also experienced more heart failure, fatigue, pulmonary embolism and insomnia, but slightly lower rates of enlarged prostate.
Doctors should consider the diverse ways that increased weight affects their patients' health when they counsel or treat them, Patterson said.
"Effective and practical public health approaches to preventing weight gain and treating obesity are urgently needed," she said.