Obesity and Hypertension
The human body is designed to carry a certain amount of fat, particularly for insulation and energy storage. Obesity, the presence of excess amounts of fat in proportion to your body, can be cause for the development of a variety of complications interfering with overall general health.
Obesity: Prevalence in America
It is estimated that over 30% of American adults is currently obese. This is over 72 million people. It is approximated that an additional 30% are overweight. Individuals between the ages of 40-59 had the greatest prevalence of obesity. The prevalence of obesity has continued to grow every year for the last 25 years. Obesity was responsible for an economic cost of approximately 120 billion dollars in the year 2000.
Obesity: Associated Complications
Obesity is associated with increased risk for the development of a variety of other conditions as a complication of excess weight. The following is a list of the most common complications associated with obesity, including hypertension.
- Cancer (Breast, colon, and endometrial)
- Coronary artery disease
- Decreased HDL good cholesterol
- Emotional consequences
- Fatty liver disease
- Fertility complications
- Gallbladder disease
- Increased LDL bad cholesterol
- Physical discomfort
- Sleep apnea
- Social consequences
Obesity: Risk Factors
There are certain risk factors that are commonly associated to increase chances for the development of obesity.
- Age: Aging is typically accompanied by certain amounts of weight gain due to decreased metabolism and decreases in activity levels which lead to a need for less calories.
- Family History: There is a definite correlation between families and obesity. This is due to several factors, particularly learned dietary and lifestyle habits.
- Genetics: There is a genetic link between fat distribution, efficiency of conversion from food to energy, and the manner in which your body burns calories during exercise. However, genetics does not guarantee obesity.
- Sex: Women are more likely to be obese than men.
Obesity and Hypertension
As weight is gained, fatty tissue is added to the body. This tissue, like all other tissues of the body, requires a certain amount of nutrients for survival that must be delivered by the bloodstream. As the amount of fatty tissue increases, so does the requirement for oxygen and nutrients to supply this fatty tissue. This is cause for increased amounts of blood circulating throughout your body. Increased amounts of blood within the same arteries are cause for added pressure to arterial walls. Additionally, excess weight is also cause for increased presence of insulin. Insulin, in addition to maintaining blood sugar levels, causes the retention of sodium (salt) and water. The combination of these increases is cause for increased heart rate for adequate blood transport, leading to the development of hypertension.
Obesity: The Good News
The good news about obesity is that even weight lost accomplished in a slow and modest manner can serve to improve or prevent the development of complications caused by obesity. Weight loss is also correlated with a decrease in the risk for the development of hypertension. It has also been strongly associated that weight loss is possible, especially with the presence of a plan, knowledge, encouragement, and a positive attitude.
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