Why Lose Weight?

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The main reason to lose weight is for health, not appearance.

  • The risk of death rises with increasing weight.
  • Even moderate weight excess (10 to 20 pounds for a person of average height) increases the risk of death, particularly among adults ages 30 to 64.
  • People who are obese (defined as having a body mass index [BMI] greater than 30) have a higher risk of excess death (they are more likely to die) from all causes, compared to people at a healthy weight.

Obesity is now recognized as a major risk factor for coronary heart disease, which can lead to heart attack.

Some reasons for this higher risk are known, but others are not. For example:

  • The incidence of heart disease is higher in persons who are overweight or obese (BMI greater than 25).
  • High blood pressure is more common in adults who are obese than in those who are at a healthy weight.
  • Obesity is associated with elevated triglycerides (blood fat) and decreased HDL cholesterol (”good”) cholesterol.
  • Even when there are no adverse effects on the known risk factors, obesity by itself increases the risk of heart disease.

The consequences of weight gain are serious for other health issues as well.

  • A weight gain of 11 to 18 pounds increases a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes to twice that of people who have not gained weight.
  • Over 80 percent of people with diabetes are overweight or obese.
  • Overweight and obesity are associated with an increased risk for some types of cancer including endometrial (cancer of the lining of the uterus), colon, gall bladder, prostate, kidney and postmenopausal breast cancer.
  • Women gaining more than 20 pounds from age 18 to midlife double their risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, compared to women whose weight remains stable.
  • Sleep apnea (interrupted breathing while sleeping) is more common in obese persons.
  • Obesity is associated with a higher prevalence of asthma.
  • For every 2-pound increase in weight, the risk of developing arthritis increases by 9 to 13 percent.
  • Symptoms of arthritis can improve with weight loss.