Saint Peter’s Better Health

Sponsored by Saint Peter’s Healthcare System

Obesity is one of the leading causes of preventable death in the U.S. As weight accumulates over time and your body mass index rises, your risk also rises for several health conditions. People who are obese are much more likely to develop the following:

Sleep Apnea

This sleep disorder causes you to periodically stop breathing during the night. Your air can be interrupted from just a few seconds to a couple minutes at a time. With hundreds of these pauses, your quality of sleep greatly decreases and you feel more tired when you’re awake. Left untreated, sleep apnea can cause stroke, weight gain, diabetes, heart attack, or high blood pressure.

Type 2 Diabetes

If you have type 2 diabetes, your body struggles to use insulin correctly. Typically, insulin transports sugar from the food you eat to your cells. Then your cells use the sugar for energy. When the insulin stops functioning properly due to type 2 diabetes though, your pancreas starts making extra insulin to meet your body’s needs. However, it can’t maintain the high demand and eventually your blood sugar levels get too high. This causes a lot of damage in your body and can lead to:

  • Kidney disease
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Blindness
  • Stroke
  • Death


There is consistent evidence that having a higher amount of body fat is associated with an increased risk for a number of cancers. Specifically, obesity raises your risk for breast cancer, colon cancer, endometrial cancer, and gallbladder cancer.


Most people tend to get osteoarthritis as a result of too much wear and tear on their joints, often due to injuries and overuse. But being obese puts additional pressure on your hips and knees. This wears down the joints faster and raises the risk of developing osteoarthritis.

Coronary Heart Disease

Excess weight increases your chances for coronary heart disease—when plaque, a waxy substance, builds up inside your arteries. These arteries are vital blood vessels that carry blood and oxygen to your heart. If blood flow to your heart is blocked, you can experience chest pain or possibly suffer a heart attack

High Blood Pressure

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a condition in which blood flows through your blood vessels with more force than normal. As a result, blood vessels throughout your body are damaged and can lead to other health issues, including:

  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Kidney disease
  • Eye damage

While signs and symptoms of the health problems listed above are not always immediately apparent, several can lead to serious complications if not caught in time. But the good news is that obesity is preventable and treatable. Talk with your doctor if you’re having difficulty losing weight—he or she can help you get your weight under control.

© 2000-2018 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional’s instructions.