Obesity is about more than carrying excess weight. It’s about the life-limiting effects that weight has on just about every organ in the body.
"Obesity actually causes the body to begin turning on itself," says James Swain, MD, director of bariatric surgery at HonorHealth. "It’s a much more serious issue than most people realize."
Obesity can be considered an offensive attack on the body, he says. "Fat cells get deposited between normal, healthy cells throughout the body. When the immune system launches an offensive attack to fight fat cells, healthy cells become collateral damage."
That damage has a ripple effect. The organs and tissues, meant to be supported and protected by those healthy cells, are negatively impacted.
Inflammation sets in, causing disease
With the body constantly trying to fight fat cells that it rightly perceives as a threat, chronic inflammation sets in. Inflammation is a root cause of just about every chronic disease This explains why obesity is directly linked to an array of health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, joint disease, sleep apnea and more.
While there are plenty of negative things to say about the dangers of obesity, there is some good news.
"The body’s ability to heal itself means that losing even a little bit of weight can net almost immediate health returns," Dr. Swain says. "For starters, the body becomes more sensitive to insulin."
Obese individuals develop insulin resistance, leading to high blood sugar and ultimately type 2 diabetes. Losing even five to 10 pounds of excess weight can help the body better manage insulin and regulate blood sugar.
"Losing enough weight and maintaining a healthy diet may even put diabetes into remission," Dr. Swain says.
Other immediate health benefits of losing weight include a decrease in blood pressure, lower cholesterol and elimination of sleep apnea.