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The Health Effects of Obesity

Being overweight or obese puts you at risk for many serious health conditions.

In light of the worrying number of adults and children who are overweight or obese in the Gulf, the first regional obesity congress in the Middle East, the Gulf Obesity Summit and Regional Congress 2018, was held last year. Under the theme 'Achieving the UN targets by 2025,’ the event examined what needs to be done to meet the UN targets for ‘no increase in obesity by 2025.’

Topics highly relevant to the Gulf region were considered, including the best means of promoting physical activity, the complications of following a diet in Ramadan, the treatment of adolescents with obesity and options for weight management during pregnancy.

While the experts are working at ways to implement effective treatment services and prevention measures, we look at how obesity can contribute to causing diseases and serious health problems.

If you're obese, here are some of the major complications you're more likely to develop:
High LDL Cholesterol levels: Having a high level of low-density lipoproteins (LDL), which is known as the bad type of cholesterol, raises your risk of having heart disease. LDLs carry cholesterol, a fatty substance, from your liver to the cells that need it. Too much of it in your blood can cause fatty material to build up in your artery walls. Things are even riskier if you have a high LDL level and a low amount of high-density lipoprotein, the good cholesterol known as HDL.

Type 2 diabetes: Obesity is considered to be one of the most important factors in the advance of insulin resistance. And by making cells more resilient to the effects of insulin, being overweight or obese can lead to you having type 2 diabetes.

High blood pressure: High blood pressure or hypertension, a major risk factor for heart disease, tends to increase with weight gain and age. It’s unclear why obesity is a major cause of high blood pressure, however, research has shown obese patients displayed an increase in blood volume and arterial resistance.

Heart disease and strokes: According to the American Heart Association, obesity is a big cause for developing coronary heart disease, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Being obese can cause artery blockage due to fat build up in artery walls, which prevents blood supply to the brain, resulting in a stroke.

Cancer: A study by the American Heart Association found being overweight increases your chances for developing cancer by 50 percent. Women have a higher risk of developing cancer if they are overweight.

Gallstones: Being extremely overweight increases the danger of developing gallstones, especially in women. Gallstones are caused when the liver releases excessive amounts of bile, which is stored in the gallbladder.

Gynaecological problems: Obesity can create changes in the hormonal levels of women, as our bodies need to be at an appropriate weight to produce the right amount of hormones and regulate ovulation and menstruation. So if you are overweight, you have a higher chance of suffering from infertility and ovarian cancer.

Back pain: Excess weight, especially in the abdominal area, can put strain on one of your body's most vulnerable parts, the spine. Lower back pain is especially common in women who are obese.

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