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The #5 Main Reasons To Stop Being Overweight

14-01-2016

People who are overweight or obese can find many different people and information sources telling them why they need to lose weight and what potential health issues they need to avoid. Here we have tried to streamline the message by identifying the five main reasons to lose weight for an overweight or obese person...

1) Avoiding crippling pain in your knee and elbow joints as you get older

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that causes us to lose cartilage and gradually destroys the bones of our joints, like pairs of rocks grinding together and eroding one another inside our arms and legs. It is one of the leading causes of disability in the world and can be extremely unpleasant and detrimental to a person’s quality of life. It should be taken seriously by everyone.

People tend to not think very much about osteoarthritis because it’s common. Everyone has an elderly relative with “a touch of the old arthritis in the knees”. It’s seen as something associated with growing old instead of something that can be exacerbated by lifestyle choices in younger life.

Obesity makes it much more likely that a person will develop osteoarthritis. One study has indicated that the likelihood of being diagnosed with osteoarthritis in one knee is six times greater for heavy people, and eighteen times greater for getting it in both knees.

Different studies using different evidence samples conclude lesser probabilities than those, while others put the risk factor even higher. Whatever estimates we accept, it’s now viewed as a proven fact that being overweight or obese makes osteoarthritis much more likely.

Chronic osteoarthritis works in the following vicious cycle:

  • Your joints are strained, causing reduction in movement.
  • Less movement means your joints don’t get loaded.
  • Less joint loading makes the muscles grow weaker.
  • Muscle weakness means the force of motion doesn’t get properly cushioned.
  • Insufficient cushioning means the damage to the joints worsens.
  • More damage to the joints makes movement more painful, reducing one’s movement further.
  • And the cycle repeats…

The reasons why an unhealthy amount of weight helps instigate this process are twofold:

Firstly, heavier people put a lot more weight on their joints, causing them to degrade faster over time from excess joint loading.

Secondly, the presence of excess fatty tissue in the body triggers a chemical and hormonal environment that causes inflammation of the joints, increasing the strain on the joints and making movement more uncomfortable.

So in summary, one of the most important reasons why you should be aiming to lose weight if you’re an overweight person is to reduce joint pain and improve your movement. And this isn’t just to prepare you for old age; these are things you can benefit from almost immediately.

2) You'll get much better sleep and be less likely to die at night

Being badly overweight or obese significantly increases the chances you’ll suffer from something called sleep apnea; a condition that causes your upper airway to collapse in on itself while you sleep and cut off your oxygen tunnel.

This doesn’t just cause you to snore; it means you actually stop breathing for brief pauses, repeatedly, while you sleep. Each pause in breathing, called apnea, can last anywhere from several seconds to several minutes.

This is very undesirable. Best case scenario is your body copes and you sleep through it until morning. Most annoying scenario is your brain is forced to keep waking you up so that you can resume breathing and remain alive. Absolute worst case scenario is you die of cardiac arrest in your sleep.

Too much body weight increases the potential for sleep apena for the following reasons:
While around twenty-five percent of adults have some degree of sleep apnea (usually mild), fifty percent of obese adults have it.

  • Fatty tissue in your airway narrows the space available for air passage, making your airway more prone to collapsing to the point of blocking your air supply.
  • Fat in your upper body puts weight on your lungs and reduces the space available for them to breath and inflate, meaning your body is less able to get the air it needs.
  • Fat, an organ which produces hormones, changes your body’s natural hormonal signals in a way that can interfere with the functioning of your respiratory system.

If an adult has mild sleep apnea, and that adult puts on weight, the weight gain significantly increases the chances that he or she will develop moderate to severe sleep apnea, as shown by the following data:

5% weight gain :: 250% increase to chance of developing severe sleep apnea

10% weight gain :: 650% increase to chance of developing severe sleep apnea

20% weight gain :: 3,700% increase to chance of developing severe sleep apnea

The effect that too much body weight has of sometimes causing sleep apnea is particularly prevalent in children. Forty-six percent of obese children suffer from sleep apnea, while the volume of sufferers among children of normal weight is only three percent.

In addition to the potential for constant disruption to sleep and the (slight) risk of death, this condition adversely effects the bodies metabolic health, as sleep is a major regulator of metabolism. If one’s sleep is poor, so is one’s metabolism.

This causes things like elevated inflammation, rapid cell aging and oxidation, hormonal disruption and higher risk of developing various chronic diseases in the long term.

So in summary, if you get yourself down to a healthier weight you will probably find that you sleep better. Not only is this important to regulate your body’s metabolism, hormone systems, etc, but it helps you to think, feel, perform and generally live better.

3) Your immune system will function the way it's supposed to

People tend to think of body fat as something separate from the body’s organs, or as something undesirable that would ideally be eliminated from the body. In actual fact, body fat is an essential active endocrine organ, meaning it releases hormones and cytokines (cell signaling molecules) into the body.

These hormones and cytokines provide beneficial effects to our bodily systems. They “talk” to one another via chemical mechanisms. If we have a healthy amount of body fat, our hormones and cell signals work properly. If, however, we have too much body fat, things can go very wrong.

Our immune systems are one of the things that suffer if we have too much body fat. It would take an article many times the size of this one to present all the evidence that being overweight compromises the body’s immune system, but you can take it from us that the more overweight you are, the greater the risk of you contracting several kinds of infection such as gum infections, nose and sinus infections, stomach infections and herpes.

This happens because too much adipose (fat) tissue can discharge much larger quantities of immune chemicals than are normal for our bodies. Over time, this chronic high exposure to immune chemicals can interfere with the body’s natural ability to identify and thwart dangerous infections.

So in summary, the fatter you get, the more vulnerable your body is to infections and diseases.

4) You're less likely to die from surgery or childbirth

Any surgeon or other medical doctor will tell you that people with a lot of body fat are more complicated to treat for reasons such as:

  • It’s harder to get a tube into their windpipes to maintain an open airway to get vital medicines into their body
  • Their is a greater chance that surgical wounds will not heal properly and might pop open again or cause hernias to develop in the body
  • Operations take longer and there is greater risk of the patient dying while under anesthetic
  • They are more likely to get infected when catheters are inserted into the body for any reason
  • They have a higher chance of developing serious and potentially fatal post-operative complications

Surgery is a much more risky business for people who are badly overweight or obese. This is doubly unfortunate because people who suffer from excessive weight also often struggle with additional health issues that may cause them to need surgery.

Pregnancy is another risky business for badly overweight people. Approximately twenty percent of the general female population in the western world require a Caesarean section when giving birth. Among obese women the figure is fifty percent.

And even if an obese woman is able to give birth vaginally, there’s a greater likelihood that she will have to undergo additional medical procedures and require the aid of more complex medical instruments to safely deliver her baby.

After a Caesarean section or other surgical procedure, new mothers who are obese are a lot more likely to develop surgical site infections. There are many other potential pregnancy complications that become more and more likely as a woman’s body fat increases.

So in summary, being overweight or obese makes medical surgery and childbirth much riskier affairs.

5) You'll enjoy your food much more

Something that is not commonly known about people who struggle with weight is that they generally can’t taste their food as well as people with normal body weight.

No one is sure why exactly this is, but it has been frequently observed that people with a lot of fat have an easier to trigger “disgust” response when eating things like vegetables which are bitter or astringent in taste.

Overweight people, however, almost always remain receptive to the sweeter, fattier tastes like cakes or ice cream, though they often cannot taste them as well as a person of normal weight.

In nutritional experiments performed on laboratory rodents, scientists found that overfeeding the rodents changed how their taste cells function and affected the foods they would devour, and that when the rodents were given surgery to reduce the fat they had built up, they reverted to their normal tasting/wanting behavior.

Unfortunately, this tasting dysfunction of badly overweight people draws them to exactly the types of foods that are the most responsible for causing weight problems in human beings; foods that taste very sweet, very salty and very fatty. This would help explain why junk food can be so addictive for overweight people.

It should be noted however, that in the case of many overweight or obese people, these foods that they crave so much don’t actually appease them. No matter how much junk food they eat, it never seems to satisfy them.

The good news is that negatively skewered tasting behavior is reversible in people as well as rodents. Loosing weight, improving physical fitness and gradually increasing one’s health can improve how we perceive flavors, making us not only more receptive to healthier foods, but enabling us to appreciate and enjoy the taste of all food types more.

So in summary, being badly overweight alters your taste perceptions, causing you to crave and eat more and more of the wrong kinds of food, making you fatter and fatter if you keep giving in. Loosing weight and getting fitter, however, will reduce the cravings for fatty and sugary foods and help you get more enjoyment out of food in general.

Thanks for reading. This article was inspired by information presented in this excellent article by James Heathers of PrecisionNutrition.

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