The rate of obesity in the U.S. has been on the rise since 1991, with more than 2/3 of Americans now considered overweight or obese by the CDC (1). Although the correlation between excess weight and health problems in general has long been established, it’s not just your physical health that suffers if you’re overweight—it can also have some pretty negative effects on your mental health and your sex life! If you’re planning to make some big changes to your diet and exercise routine, consider these 10 negative effects of obesity on women’s health before you start!
1) Heart disease
Obese women are four times more likely to develop heart disease than women who are a healthy weight. Heart disease is one of the most common causes of death for women, so making sure your BMI is in check can drastically reduce your risk. (If you’re concerned about how your body looks at a given weight, check out our BDD guide .) And if you do have heart problems now, not losing weight could mean increasing your risk for heart failure—because that increase in fat and inflammation will cause further damage to your arteries. Plus, by losing weight and becoming healthier overall, you’ll feel better as well.
2) Being overweight affects self-esteem
Oftentimes, women who are overweight or obese don’t see themselves as being at a healthy weight. A study from Duke University found that obese women can be more than twice as likely to have a negative body image than those who aren’t overweight. Because these women might believe they’re heavier than they actually are, they may find it difficult to lose weight. The best way to combat self-esteem issues associated with obesity is by achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. This will help you feel better about yourself and build confidence for future weight loss goals, both in terms of health and appearance.
3) Painful joints
Because of their size, obese women often experience aches and pains in joints such as knees, elbows, and hands. Chronic joint pain can lead to early arthritis. Instead of adding stress to your joints, lose weight to reduce pain while reducing your risk for arthritis. Women who are overweight or obese at age 40 have a 50 percent greater chance of developing arthritis than those who are a healthy weight. Research suggests that women may develop osteoarthritis in their knees earlier if they are overweight or obese during middle age (ages 45-64).
4) Obesity causes arthritis
If you’re overweight, extra weight puts more pressure on your joints and can lead to an increased risk of arthritis. Excess weight may also cause inflammation in your joints, which can further damage existing cartilage and make it more difficult for you to lose additional weight. To lower your chances of developing painful joint issues associated with obesity, set a goal to lose at least 5 percent of your current body weight; aiming for 10 percent will boost your overall results even more. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds but have been unable to lose weight, losing just 20 pounds should help reduce excess stress on your knees and hips.
5) Lower quality of life
It is widely known that obesity can lead to a lower quality of life for both women and men. However, women have been found to be at an even greater disadvantage than men in several instances. Women who are overweight are more likely to have health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes, which can take a significant toll on their quality of life. Women who suffer from obesity are also likely to suffer from low self-esteem, depression, and social stigma. There is also evidence that women who are obese are less satisfied with their appearance and feel less confident about themselves than thinner women do. These feelings could prevent them from leading full lives because they may feel as though they cannot be successful or happy if they don’t look like everyone else around them.
6) Negative impacts on metabolism
Several studies have shown that obesity can adversely affect a woman’s metabolism. The risk for developing heart disease, cancer, and diabetes is higher in obese women than it is in their leaner counterparts. Women who are overweight or obese tend to be at an increased risk for developing metabolic syndrome and its associated health problems, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, unhealthy blood fats (including triglycerides), insulin resistance (diabetes), high blood sugar levels (also known as hyperglycemia), and excess body fat around their waist. All of these metabolic problems increase your risk for developing heart disease and stroke, two leading causes of death among women in America.
7) Depression and anxiety are more common in obese people
Depression and anxiety are more common in obese people, according to a 2012 study. Researchers from University College London studied data from 3,332 women who took part in UK Women’s Cohort Study (UKWCS) between 1998 and 2001. Women were weighed when they enrolled in UKWCS and were followed up every three years until 2010. During follow-up, 337 of these women developed depression or an anxiety disorder—and it was found that obese women were three times more likely to develop depression or an anxiety disorder than those who weren’t overweight or obese.
8) The increased risk of cancer
Being overweight or obese is considered a major risk factor for some types of cancer. For example, postmenopausal women who are overweight or obese face an increased risk for breast cancer and colorectal cancer. Body fat can also produce estrogen and testosterone, which can increase a woman’s risk for reproductive cancers such as endometrial, ovarian, and uterine cancers. Obese men have a greater chance to develop prostate cancer than healthy-weight men do. In addition to increasing cancer risks, obesity may cause existing cancers to grow more quickly by adding additional hormones that stimulate tumor growth.
9) Increase in blood pressure is higher than normal weight people.
Blood pressure is a measurement of blood flow that occurs when your heart beats, forcing blood through your veins and arteries. Blood pressure has two numbers, one for systolic and one for diastolic. Both numbers must be recorded during each measurement because systolic is under stress when your heart contracts and diastolic occurs between beats. According to a study by Georgia State University, women who are obese have higher levels of hypertension than their normal weight counterparts. To reduce high blood pressure naturally, eat foods that have essential fatty acids in them such as salmon or walnuts; they’ll help lower your blood pressure while also boosting your moods at the same time!
Women who are obese are more likely to suffer from allergies than women who aren’t. For example, women who weigh over 175 pounds have been found to be three times more likely to develop sinus and nasal allergies. In addition, obesity can worsen existing allergies and increase inflammation throughout your body. Women are also known to struggle with endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), fibroids, and many other health issues that stem from hormonal imbalances due to obesity. All of these conditions can lead to fertility problems in women who want children one day.