How Excess Weight Affects Your Health

Excess pounds do more than increase your weight—they increase your risk of major health problems. People who are overweight or obese are more likely to have heart disease, strokes, diabetes, cancer, and depression. Fortunately, losing weight can reduce your risk of developing some of these problems.

Weight and Your Health

If you’re carrying many extra pounds, you face a higher-than-average risk of a whopping 50 different health problems. These health conditions include the nation’s leading causes of death—heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and certain cancers—as well as less common ailments such as gout and gallstones. Perhaps even more compelling is the strong link between excess weight and depression, because this common mood disorder can have a profound, negative impact on your daily life.

A Harvard study that combined data from more than 50,000 men (participants in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study) and more than 120,000 women (from the Nurses’ Health Study) revealed some sobering statistics about weight and health.

The volunteers provided their height and weight, as well as details on their diets, health habits, and medical histories. Researchers tracked the volunteers over more than 10 years. They noted the occurrence of illnesses and compared those developments with each subject’s body mass index (BMI)—an estimate of an individual’s relative body fat calculated from his or her height and weight).

Obesity increased the risk of diabetes 20 times and substantially boosted the risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and gallstones. Among people who were overweight or obese, there was a direct relationship between BMI and risk: the higher the BMI, the higher the likelihood of disease.

Risks of Eating Too Much Fat

1. Raised Risk of Atherosclerosis

Effects of too much fat in your diet include an increased chance of atherosclerosis. Because the wrong type of fat can raise your cholesterol levels, your artery walls can thicken. The presence of low-density lipoprotein in your system further complicates matters by restricting flow of blood to tissue. Your blood vessels restrict and your blood pressure rises because it is harder for your heart to do its job. This in turn raises your risk of stroke, heart attack and other coronary diseases.

2. Increased Pancreatic Cancer Risk

If you eat too much fat from red meat and dairy, you can raise your chances of developing pancreatic cancer. Animal fats are particularly harmful in these cases. Lifestyle habits and other dietary preferences can negatively impact the situation as well. The combination of these factors causes a system overload of bad cholesterol and weight gain.

3. Greater Chance of Obesity

While the body needs some fat to survive, excess fat and carbohydrates intake can speed up the development of obesity. The extra calories are hard to burn because they are metabolized into glucose. Your body will use what it needs and then store the rest in the form of fat. This increase of glycogen in your muscles and liver quickly builds up and you can become extremely overweight if the fat consumption occurs on a regular basis. Obesity is a contributing factor to many life-threatening diseases like breast cancer, high blood pressure and heart disease.

4. Possible Brain Injury

A diet high in fat can affect the part of your brain that monitors and maintains energy balance. The effects of too much fat consumption cause proteins and genes to change in a way associated with damage to the brain. Studies are showing that the damage may be irreversible. Dairy fats run a higher risk of affecting the brain because of the higher fat content in terms of volume.

5. Diabetes

Diabetes often accompanies obesity because extra body weight can affect insulin levels. The risk for type 2 diabetes is greater because your body cannot produce enough of the hormone to control sugar levels in your blood system. If not kept under control, you can have a stroke, become blind or develop kidney disease.

6. Triggers Memory Loss

Research has found that people who consume too much saturated fat can develop memory loss. The extra calories affect synapses flexibility, as well as open cells to damaging free radicals. Oxidative effects on the brain from bad fat consumption can also affect your cognitive abilities. However, the good news is if you substitute these bad fats with mono and poly-unsaturated fats, you can protect against any further damage.

7. Causes Inflammation

The effects of too much fat include general inflammation of your body. Chronic inflammation is often the first step to more serious diseases. Fat cells build up in the abdomen and secrete elements that cause a greater risk of inflammation. Excess trans-fat in the middle area of your body has been linked to greater chances of diabetes and heart disease. It can also trigger how your body monitors insulin, making your glucose levels rise.

8. Risk of Acid Reflex

Consumption of too much fat can cause havoc on your digestive system. Bad fats are hard to digest and take longer for your body to process. This can cause heartburn and indigestion, eventually leading to acid reflex. The extra stomach acid can lead to esophageal damage and even cancer because of the damage it causes when it spills up into your esophagus.

9. Onset of High Cholesterol

One of the major effects of too much fat consumption is high cholesterol. Saturated fat causes bad cholesterol to build up in your blood system, leading to a wide range of health problems. Keep in mind, a lot of bad fat comes from eggs, red meat and dairy, so it is important to monitor your food intake and eat these items in moderation. As stated before, you need fat to survive. Just make sure it is the good kind.

How to Limit Fat Intake

1. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

Instead of snacking on chips and cookies, try munching on fresh fruits and vegetables. They are healthier for you and are naturally fat free. Slice carrots, celery, and cucumbers or peel an orange and apple for a light snack full of vitamins and nutrients.

2. Skip Takeout

Studies have found cooking at home instead of picking up takeout can greatly reduce your saturated fat intake. You gain more control over the type of fat you consume if you make your food at home. You can boil or steam your meal instead of frying. If you do want to sauté your vegetables, you can use healthy olive oil in moderation.

3. Pick Lean Meats

A great way to combat the effects of too much fat is to purchase lean meats when shopping at the grocery store. Pick red meat in lean cuts, pork with excess fat cut away or skinless chicken. Ground turkey is a great substitute for ground beef in many recipes.

4. Skim Off Excess Fat

When you cook dishes that draw out fat, cool them before serving and skim off the excess fat. This would include food like soup, stew and chili. If you remove the solidified fat, you made a significant difference in the fat content. You can accomplish the same thing with roasted dishes by removing any fat dripping before serving.

5. Limit Processed Foods

You should avoid processed foods when possible because their fat content is typically high. This includes foods like hotdogs, lunch meats, bacon, ice cream, pastries, pies and cakes. You can make your own sandwich meat by broiling skinless chicken and then slicing into sandwich size pieces.

6. Pay Attention to Food Labels

With food regulations, manufacturers must list types of fat content in their products. If fat is one of the first ingredients on the label, it means the fat content is high. This means the calories obtained from the food will be mostly from fat. If a food contains low fat that does not always mean it is healthier. Look out for higher sugar content.

7. Look Out for Hidden Fat

Fat is hidden in places we don’t often think of. Some of these places include foods like sour cream, cheese, mayonnaise and salad dressings. Look for fat-free, skim or low-fat versions to reduce your fat consumption. You can also use lemon juice, vinegar and fresh spices to make your own dressing instead of using dairy or fat-based store bought versions.

8. Order Reduced Fat Options

As consumers become more health conscious, restaurants are offering more pre-set menus with healthy reduced fat options. They typically list the calorie content and even note if the menu item is heart healthy. If you are not lucky enough to dine at a place with these issues in mind, look for grilled or baked options. Stay away from rich and creamy sauces. Get your salad with the dressing on the side so you can drizzle it on yourself.

9. Eat the Right Fats

When eating fat, choose healthy options. Regularly eat omega-3 fatty acid rich fish like salmon and herring, preferably twice a week or more. Enjoy a healthy yet filling snack including almonds, pistachios, cashews and walnuts, but eat in moderate serving sizes. Avocados are high in calories but also high in monounsaturated fat which counteracts the effects of cholesterol.

What Are The Various Ways To Prevent Excessive Body Fat?

There are many ways to prevent excessive body fat. Here are some tips:

1. Eat a healthy diet. Focus on eating fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. Avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, and unhealthy fats.

2. Get regular exercise. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week.

3. Maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight or obese, work with your healthcare provider to develop a plan to lose weight safely.

4. avoid crash diets and other fad diets that can lead to yo-yo dieting and unhealthy weight loss practices. Instead, focus on making sustainable changes to your eating habits that you can stick with over time.

5. Don’t skip meals or go too long without eating. This can cause your blood sugar to drop and lead to overeating later in the day.

6. Control portion sizes at meals and snacks. Eat only until you feel satisfied, not full or stuffed.

7 . Drink plenty of water throughout the day and limit high-calorie beverages such as soda, juice, and alcohol.