From 2017 to 2018, obesity affected over 40 percent of the U.S. population. People living with obesity have higher chances of developing a range of serious medical issues.

These health problems affect nearly every part of the body, including the:

  • brain
  • blood vessels
  • heart
  • liver
  • gallbladder
  • bones
  • joints

Take a look at this infographic to find out how obesity affects the different areas of your body.

Being overweight or having obesity greatly increases the risk of stroke, which happens when blood stops flowing to your brain.

Fat stored around the neck can make the airway too small, which can make breathing difficult at night. This condition is called sleep apnea. Breathing may actually stop for short periods of time in people with sleep apnea.

Obesity has been associated with a higher risk of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD occurs when stomach acid leaks into the esophagus.

In addition, obesity increases the risk of developing gallstones. This is when bile builds up and hardens in the gallbladder. This may require surgery.

Fat can also build up around the liver and lead to liver damage, scar tissue, and even liver failure.

In people with obesity, the heart needs to work harder to pump blood around the body. This leads to high blood pressure, or hypertension. High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke.

High blood pressure can make the blood vessels that carry blood to the heart become hard and narrow. Hardened arteries, also called atherosclerosis, can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. High blood pressure can also cause chronic kidney disease.

Obesity can also make the body’s cells resistant to insulin. Insulin is a hormone that carries sugar from your blood to your cells, where it’s used for energy.

If you’re resistant to insulin, the sugar can’t be taken up by the cells, resulting in high blood sugar. This increases a person’s risk of having type 2 diabetes, a condition where your blood sugar is too high. Type 2 diabetes is linked to a range of other health issues, including heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, amputation, and blindness.

Obesity can make it more difficult for someone to get pregnant. It has also been linked to decreased testosterone levels, which can make it harder to conceive.

Additionally, obesity can increase the risk of serious complications during pregnancy.

Obesity can cause deteriorating bone density and muscle mass. This is referred to as osteosarcopenic obesity. Osteosarcopenic obesity can lead to a higher risk of fractures, physical disability, insulin resistance, and poorer overall health outcomes.

Extra weight can also put too much pressure on the joints, leading to pain and stiffness.

Rashes can occur where the skin of body fat folds. A condition known as acanthosis nigricans can also occur.

Acanthosis nigricans is characterized by discoloration and thickening of the skin in the folds and creases of your body. It has also been linked to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Share on Pinterest
Acanthosis nigricans is a darkening of the skin folds. It can be an early skin of diabetes. Vandana Mehta Rai MD DNB, C Balachandran MD, CC BY-SA 3.0. Photography courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Share on Pinterest
Acanthosis nigricans is a skin condition that causes darkening of the skin in areas of skin folds. People with obesity and diabetes can develop this condition. MIA Studio/Shutterstock

Obesity has been associated with several different mental health conditions among different populations. People with obesity may be more likely to have:

  • reduced well-being
  • negative emotions
  • psychopathological symptoms

One way to address these issues is by focusing on positive interventions, like relaxation techniques and self-strengthening skills to improve mood and reduce depression, anxiety, inner tension, restlessness, and stress.

Obesity is also associated with a higher risk of depression, poor self-esteem, and issues with body image.

Obesity has been linked to an increased risk of many different types of cancers, including:

  • endometrial
  • liver
  • kidney
  • cervical
  • colon
  • esophageal
  • pancreatic

As your body mass index (BMI) increases, so does your risk of developing cancer.

Obesity affects nearly every part of the body. If you’re living with obesity, you can treat or manage many of these risk factors with a combination of diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes.

Losing just 5 to 10 percent of your current weight can reduce your risk of developing these health issues. Talk with your doctor about losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.