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Consequences and Long-Term Health Effects of Obesity

Although obesity is often considered a physical condition, the effects of obesity go far beyond a person’s weight and body composition. Carrying excess body fat is associated with many different long-term health effects – some of which are among the nation’s leading causes of premature death. The more obese an individual is, the more likely he or she is to develop complications.

Individuals who are clinically obese have an elevated risk of the following health effects:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cardiovascular complications (heart attack and stroke, among others)
  • High cholesterol (hyperlipidemia)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Heartburn/esophageal reflux
  • Leg swelling and blood clots
  • Sleep apnea (obesity hypoventilation syndrome)
  • Joint pain, back pain, osteoarthritis, and other orthopedic problems
  • Pseudotumor cerebri
  • Gallstones
  • Fatty liver disease and/or cirrhosis
  • Cancers of the colon, gallbladder, breast, uterus, esophagus, prostate, cervix, or pancreas
  • Shortness of breath
  • Reproductive disorders such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Stress incontinence
  • Skin infections

Obesity can also be detrimental to a person’s mental health and overall quality of life. Depression, anxiety, poor self-image, and loss of sexual desire are common psychological effects of obesity. Additionally, individuals may experience prejudice and discrimination as a result carrying excess weight.

Although there are many significant health concerns – both emotional and physical – for people who are obese, many of the detrimental health effects are proven to resolve or improve with significant, sustained weight loss. At Tampa General Hospital, we offer patients a comprehensive range of strategies for counteracting the serious health effects of obesity. From physician-supervised weight loss programs and psychological counseling to surgical interventions, our bariatric services are designed to help patients take control of their weight.