Can Losing Weight Help Fight Chronic Diseases?
While most people are aware of the connection between weight and diabetes, not everyone realizes that there are a number of chronic diseases that can be mitigated by losing weight. The growing number of obese patients has been directly correlated to the growing incidence of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, some cancers, high blood pressure, and more. Studies increasingly show that maintaining a healthy weight may reduce the risk of developing these chronic diseases.
Relationship between Weight, Chronic Disease, and Genetics
There are some factors that determine the relationship between weight and chronic disease. Genetics and behaviors such as smoking cigarettes are certainly factors in developing certain diseases. However, these risk factors make it more likely that you will develop a chronic disease if you become obese or overweight. Obesity occurs more frequently in some families than in others. Since families share meals as well as other habits, separating out the role genetics plays is complex.
While there is concern that being underweight may affect the development of some chronic diseases, most research has been concentrated on the connection between obesity or excess weight and health. This is most likely because there are more overweight or obese people in the United States than there are underweight ones. Below is a breakdown of diseases clearly linked to obesity.
Cardiovascular disease is one of the major killers worldwide. The medical community is in agreement that the more weight you carry, the greater risk that you will have a heart attack. Here’s a troubling statistic: if you are 5 to 15% overweight, you are more than twice as likely to die from a heart attack as someone of average weight. For someone who is 25% or more overweight, the number increases to 5 times higher than normal.
Risk of heart disease and stroke can be reduced by eating less saturated and trans fats, increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, and less salt.
High Blood Pressure
There is a direct link between being overweight and having high blood pressure, and losing excess weight should lower your blood pressure. Your build and where you carry excess weight is also a factor for developing high blood pressure. If you have a low waist-to-hip ratio, you probably have lower blood pressure than someone of the same weight who has as higher waist-to-hip ratio.
As mentioned previously, this is probably the most well-known disease linked to obesity or excess weight. Excess fat, which is generally associated with excess weight, increases your risk of developing noninsulin-dependent diabetes. While there are genetic factors involved, people who are 20% or more overweight have twice the chance of becoming diabetic than those who are at a healthy weight. The risk doubles for every additional 20% of weight. For example, a 5’9” man weighing 190 pounds as opposed to the optimal 158 pounds, doubles his risk of developing noninsulin-dependent diabetes. If he gains an additional 37 pounds, his risk doubles.
As with high blood pressure, noninsulin-dependent diabetes is more often found in people who carry excess weight mainly on their abdomen (high waist-to-hip ratio). Those who carry excess weight in the hips and thighs (low waist-to-hip ratio), do not seem to have as much of a health risk as far as diabetes is concerned. This appears to be particularly true for women.
In addition, developing diabetes increases the risk of developing heart and kidney disease, stroke, and infections.
Losing weight, and keeping it off, is the most effective non-medical therapy for someone with noninsulin-dependent diabetes. Numerous studies have shown that losing weight improves your body’s ability to metabolize glucose, a biochemical hallmark of the disease.
Research has provided clear evidence that being overweight or obese increases your likelihood of developing gallstones. This is especially true as you age and if you are female. For example, nearly one-third of obese women will develop gallbladder disease by age 60.
The connection between weight and gallbladder disease is based on the fact that being overweight increases your body’s production of cholesterol. As the body makes more cholesterol, the liver secretes more, raising the cholesterol level in bile, which then leads to gallstones.
While using tobacco is the main cause of cancer, weight does contribute significantly to some cancers. The link between excess weight and cancer is not as definitive or strong as it is with the diseases mentioned above, but it does exist. Being obese or even overweight increases the risk of endometrial cancer as well as cancers of the bile duct, gallbladder, esophagus, ovary, breast, cervix, prostate, and colon. Ensuring a healthy intake of fruits and vegetables can also reduce cancer risks.
Obesity is linked to more than 60 chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer. These are some of the leading causes of preventable death. The good news is that maintaining a healthy weight overall will help keep you from developing these chronic diseases. A Doctor Supervised Weight Loss Program such as ChiroThin can help you achieve and maintain your ideal weight.