"Those who are brutally honest are seldom so with themselves."

—Mignon McLaughlin, 1966

"Those who are brutally honest are seldom so with themselves."

—Mignon McLaughlin, 1966

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Health Risks of Overweight

and Obesity for Adults

Obesity increases an adult's risk for a number of diseases and conditions:

Heart Disease: As your body mass index (BMI) increases, so does your risk of having CHD and a heart attack.

High Blood Pressure: Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps out blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage the body in many ways. Your chances of having high blood pressure are greater if you're overweight or obese.

Stroke: Being overweight or obese can lead to a buildup of plaque in your arteries. Eventually, an area of plaque can rupture, causing a blood clot to form at the site. The risk of having a stroke rises as BMI increases.

Type 2 Diabetes: Diabetes is a disease in which the body's blood glucose, or blood sugar, level is too high. Diabetes is a leading cause of early death, CHD, stroke, kidney disease, and blindness. Most people who have type 2 diabetes are overweight.

Abnormal Blood Fats: If you're overweight or obese, you're at increased risk of having abnormal levels of blood fats. These include high levels of triglycerides and LDL ("bad") cholesterol and low levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol.

Metabolic Syndrome: The name for a group of risk factors linked to overweight and obesity. These risk factors increase your risk of CHD and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke.

Cancer: Being overweight or obese raises the risk of colon, breast, endometrial, and gallbladder cancers.

Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis is a joint problem of the knees, hips, and lower back. Extra weight can put more pressure and wear on joints, causing pain.

Sleep Apnea: A disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep.

Reproductive Problems: Obesity can cause menstrual irregularity and infertility.

Gallstones: Gallstones are hard pieces of stone-like material that form in the gallbladder. They're mostly made of cholesterol. People who are overweight or obese are at increased risk of having gallstones. Also, being overweight may result in an enlarged gallbladder that doesn't work right.

Statistics provided by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institute of Health.

Health Risks of Overweight Children

Obesity increases a child's risk for a number of diseases and conditions:

Asthma: A large number of children who are overweight have asthma.

Diabetes: Type 2 diabetes, formerly known as adult onset diabetes, has become increasingly prevalent among overweight children and adolescents. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that one in three American children born in 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime.

Gallstones: Obese children have a higher risk of developing gallstone disease.

Heart Disease: Early indicators of atherosclerosis — also known as hardening of the arteries — begin as early as childhood and adolescence in children with risk factors. Atherosclerosis is the most common cause of heart disease. It is related to high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which are associated with poor eating habits and overweight.

High Blood Pressure: Overweight children are more likely to have high blood pressure that can strain the heart.

Liver Problems: People who are obese are at higher risk for a liver problem called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which can lead to cirrhosis.

Menstrual Problems: Being overweight may cause a girl to reach puberty at an earlier age. Also, obesity may contribute to uterine fibroids or menstrual irregularities later in life.

Trouble Sleeping: Children who are overweight are at risk for obstructive sleep apnea, which is a serious, potentially life-threatening breathing disorder characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep.

Metabolic Syndrome: Between 25 percent and 40 percent of children who are overweight will have metabolic syndrome, which sets the stage for diabetes and heart problems. The good news is that the health problems associated with metabolic syndrome respond well to diet and exercise.

High Risk of Lifelong Overweight: Children with significant overweight have an extremely high rate of obesity when they become adults.

Statistics provided by the University of California at San Francisco Children’s Hospital.