Written on April 14, 2023 by Sendra Yang, PharmD, MBA. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Obesity is a common chronic condition with an expensive impact on the healthcare system . The prevalence of obesity continues to rise each year. Between 1975 and 2014, Global rates of obesity increased from 3.2% to 10.2% in men and from 6.4% to 14.9% in women . Worldwide estimates project that by 2025, 18% of men and 21% of women will be obese. In the United States, obesity prevalence from 1999 to 2020 increased from 30.5% to 41.9% .
Obesity is a costly disorder. The global financial burden of managing obesity and its complications is around $2 trillion annually . In the US, it is estimated that the annual medical expenses of obesity were about $172 billion in 2019 . Obese adults had approximately $1,860 higher medical costs when compared to people with a healthy weight.
Obesity not only impacts society because of increased healthcare spend but also impacts an individual's physical, mental, and social health .
According to the World Health Organization, obesity is defined as a health risk because of abnormal or excessive fat accumulation . The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines obesity as anyone with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m^2 or higher . BMI is a screening tool used to identify individuals who are overweight and obese. Obesity can be further subdivided into three classes :
Obesity is a complex disease with various underlying mechanisms affecting the body . Two proposed mechanisms of obesity complications involve inflammation and the gut microbiome. Obesity leads to a state of constant low inflammatory response in organs such as the liver, brain, pancreas, and fat tissues. The activated immune cells and mediators cause a dysregulated immune system leading to metabolic and vascular complications.
The second proposed mechanism of obesity complications involves the gut microbiome . The microbiome is essentially the natural microbes or bacteria that live in your gut and contribute to your health and wellness . The gut microbiome impacts your metabolism by signaling pathways, effects of inflammation, fat deposits, and insulin resistance . Obesity is associated with changes in gut bacteria.
The underlying mechanisms of obesity contribute to systemic complications and affect multiple organs, leading to numerous comorbid conditions [2,3].
The risk of developing obesity-related comorbidities rises exponentially with increasing BMI over 30 kg/m^2, particularly in cardiovascular disease [2,6,7]. Obese people are at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular disease, stroke, sleep apnea, gallbladder disease, gout, and osteoarthritis [2,7]. Certain cancers are associated with obesity, such as colorectal and pancreatic cancer in men and endometrial, breast, and gallbladder cancer in women [2,7]. Psychosocial comorbidities also exist with obesity, such as depression . Many of these comorbidities can improve with weight loss and management [2,3].
Losing weight, even a modest decrease of 5% to 10% of your total body weight, can yield many health benefits, including improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugars . Many comorbidities can improve with weight loss [2,3]. Talk to a healthcare professional if you are having challenges losing weight and are concerned about the various comorbidities. Through Everlywell, you can consult with a certified clinician via a telehealth weight loss visit from the comfort of your own home to discuss your weight loss goals. You can get monthly support from your healthcare provider to optimize your care plan and achieve your health targets.
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