The Health Dangers of Obesity

by on July 2, 2015

Health Dangers of Obesity

The World Health Organisation (WHO) expects that by 2030, nearly 70% of the UK will be overweight or obese. The percentage who will be obese is predicted to rise from 26% in 2010 to 35% in 2030, it is reported.

The trend is similar throughout Europe with rare exceptions.

In England, the trend is associated with socio-economic factors, and especially with women: for example, the Health Survey for England published in late 2014 reported that of the one fifth of women in the lowest income households 31% were obese, whereas in the highest income households the figure was halved – 15%. (For men, the corresponding figures were 30% and 23%.)

“Obesity” is defined as having a BMI, Body Mass Index, of over 30. Although this may lead to a false reading of “obese” for a few athletes, it is a very accurate measure for more than 99% of the population.

Overall health risk

Overall, over 50% of the men and women in England are placed in the “increased risk” category according to the UK’s “NICE” – the National Institute of Clinical Excellence.

The risks looked at in the survey above were the likelihood of the following conditions arising where a person was overweight or obese:

  1. Hypertension
  2. Diabetes and
  3. Longstanding illness – defined as any other physical or mental health condition, existing for over 12 months.

And the figures show that you are more likely to develop one of these three if your weight is high.


There is a close correlation between being overweight/obese and having high blood pressure.

A major problem with having high blood pressure is it can lead to a stroke. This can happen even to a younger person. For example, the incidence of stroke in men between 40 and 54 increased by 50% between 2000 and 2014. See: The incidence of stroke rises rapidly. The figure among women was 30%.

Approximately 50% of people with high blood pressure don’t know they’ve got it. This leads to a small number of people going to the gym or partaking in vigourous exercise not knowing they are dramatically increasing their chances of having a stroke. We should all have our blood pressure taken by our doctor occasionally.

If you are overweight or obese – which the majority of people are – this is even more important to have your blood pressure taken regularly, as high blood pressure is more likely if you are overweight.

Obesity and HBP 438x438Many people do not like taking medication, but if you have uncontrolled hypertension your risk of stroke is increased so much that you have to do something about it. First and foremost, if you are overweight you can help by reducing this.

The Life Extension Foundation article on Hypertension reports several interesting figures.

Firstly, a reduction of between 5 – 20 in the systolic figure (the lower BP figure) have been measured for each 10 kg (22 pounds) of weight loss in several studies.

Next, a reduction in salt intake where it is high has been shown to have a marked reduction in high blood pressure.

And finally, a reduction in alcohol intake to 1-2 units a day has been shown to reduce systolic blood pressure by 2 – 4 points.

The Life Extension Foundation hypertension article highlights other lifestyle changes to help high blood pressure as well as treatments both conventional, and of health supplements backed by clinical trials.

Our article on How to Lose Weight gives information on what really works when it comes to losing weight.


In 2015, one in seventeen people in the UK has diabetes. And there is worsening diabetes in the UK and the whole world. About 90% of these people have type II diabetes which is brought on, or exacerbated, by a sugary diet. Changing to a healthier diet containing less sugar will help all Type II diabetics and could be a complete treatment for the recently diagnosed.

Diabetes is not a disease to be ignored because of its unpleasant side-effects. These side-effects are mainly caused by the “hardening” effects of sugar on our tissues. This is a process called glycation. Because of glycation, diabetes causes hardening of tissues which ought to be flexible. These include the kidneys, eyes, brain and blood vessels to the extremities – the brain again, as well as the arms and legs. Hardening of these organs and areas gives diabetics problems in later years.

So, if you can avoid diabetes, you should.

There is a slight correlation between being overweight and developing diabetes. However, there is a massive correlation between being obese and diabetes. Whereas 4% of people within a normal weight range are diabetic, 14% – 3 ½ times as many – obese people are diabetic. So, if you are not diabetic, not being obese will hugely reduce your chances of becoming diabetic.

Diabetes and BMI 467x467

The main “treatment” for both diabetes and obesity, for most people, is to adopt a healthier lifestyle especially with regards to what we eat and the exercise we take.

See our article How to Lose Weight for some ideas on that.

Other longstanding illness

longstanding-illness-weight-551x551If it wasn’t bad enough to encourage high blood pressure and diabetes, increased weight and obesity is also correlated with other long-standing illnesses. This category includes all illnesses which exceed a year in length. As you can see from the accompanying chart, in the study I’ve been quoting – the Health Survey for England, 2013, which reported in December 2014 – they differentiated between “limiting” and “non-limiting” diseases. Limiting diseases are those which inhibit your ability to live your life, in some way.

The survey found a definite correlation between increased weight and increased likelihood of developing a long-standing illness. This is most clearly shown by charting the correlation between waist circumference and long-standing illness. Of those with the largest waist circumference, which equated to the number who were obese, about 50% were liable to have a long-standing illness, and for 30% of people their ability to live their life fully was inhibited by this.

The dangers of obesity

Obesity is a massive problem which threatens to overwhelm the health systems of the Western world. Obesity greatly increases the chances of developing diabetes, a disease which already swallows 10% of the entire UK National Health Service budget. Both obesity and diabetes are projected to increase dramatically over the next twenty years.

Obesity also greatly increases the incidence of high blood pressure as well as a whole raft of illnesses which last for longer than a year.

For most people, how to lose weight is quite clear, if you become aware of a few red herrings – such as the view that eating fat makes you fat – this article will help.

The trouble for many people is that willpower and commitment can be lacking. You try one method to lose weight, and then backslide.

Persistence is everything, here. If the first thing you try doesn’t work, then just keep trying something else until you find something that does work for you. It doesn’t matter if it’s the tenth thing you try that works – as long as it works.

The health dangers of obesity are startlingly clear. Obesity will definitely reduce your enjoyment of life – later, if not sooner. To be candid, you are liable to die younger and develop longstanding illnesses if you are obese. For that reason, obesity is something to target hard if we have it, or avoid if we don’t. Here are some ideas to help.


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