5 Medical Conditions You Didn’t Know May Be Caused By Obesity

You’ve probably heard that being obese puts you at increased risk for some major health concerns like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), sleep apnea, and even some cancers. But did you know that being obese can have a major impact on many different parts of your health? Let’s take a look at five medical conditions that you may not have known could be caused or made worse by obesity. overweight patient with doctor

Liver Disease

Many people don’t know that obesity puts you at increased risk for liver disease. Obesity can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is caused by too much fat stored in liver cells. In fact, NAFLD is becoming the most common form of liver disease in the US. Some fat in the liver is normal, but more than 5 to 10 percent of fat in the liver is considered steatosis (fatty liver disease).

NAFLD may cause swelling in the liver, which can lead to cirrhosis over time, liver cancer, or even liver failure. Fatigue, weakness, nausea, abdominal pain, jaundice, or edema (swelling of the legs) may all be signs of NAFLD, but some people experience no symptoms. Blood tests and an ultrasound can help diagnose the condition.

Prevention is the best course because there is no treatment for NAFLD. However, if you are obese, weight loss and a healthy lifestyle can help reverse the early stages of the disease and prevent long-term liver damage.

Stress Urinary Incontinence

Obesity puts you at higher risk for developing stress urinary incontinence, which is the unintentional loss of urine because of movement—this can be from walking, running or other physical activities, or even from laughing or sneezing. Obesity can lead to stress urinary incontinence by weakening the pelvic floor muscles and causing pressure to the bladder from fatty tissue.

Being overweight or obese are significant risk factors for developing urinary incontinence, and weight loss can be an effective approach in decreasing symptoms or completely resolving the issue. In fact, studies have shown that weight loss from bariatric surgery can substantially improve urinary incontinence issues.


According to the American Migraine Foundation, migraines are a co-morbidity of obesity. Comorbidities are health conditions caused by or related to another health condition. Although the reason obesity puts you at a higher risk for migraines is not yet known, the connection is clear. People who are obese are 50 percent more likely to have migraines than those who are not—and if you have a BMI over 40, that risk rises to 275 percent more likely to experience migraines.

Migraines are not just headaches. They can be extremely painful, debilitating episodes that can cause nausea, light sensitivity, and muscle tenderness in the neck, head, and shoulders, among other symptoms.

Most migraine sufferers can either be categorized as suffering from migraines episodically or chronically. Migraines are chronic if they cause severe pain, occur more than 14 days out of every month, and last more than four hours per episode. Being obese puts you at increased risk for migraines, even if you’ve never experienced them before, and obesity can cause a person who only experiences migraines episodically to become a chronic migraine sufferer.

Here’s the good news: even though obesity is a risk factor for migraines, it’s what’s known as a “modifiable” risk factor. This means by losing weight, you can make it more likely to rid yourself of migraines.

Arthritis and Joint Pain

Body fat has a significant effect on osteoarthritis and joint pain. The joints are the moveable connections of your bones which allow movement—and they also absorb a lot of pressure.

Extra weight on the joints can lead to inflammation and extra wear and tear, particularly for weight-bearing joints like the ankles, knees, hips, pelvis, and lower spine. Even just 10 pounds over a normal BMI can put an additional 15 to 50 pounds of pressure on the knees, increasing the risk or worsening osteoarthritis and joint pain. People who are obese are more at risk for needing total joint replacement.

Obesity is the greatest modifiable risk for osteoarthritis. People who achieve significant weight loss have been able to see improvement in osteoarthritis as well as joint pain and joint function.


Studies have consistently shown a connection between obesity and depression, and nearly half of adults with depression are obese. But does being depressed lead to obesity or can obesity cause depression? The answer may be both. One review of medical studies on obesity and depression concluded that obesity and depression can be “reciprocal” risk factors: a diagnosis of clinical depression can put you more at risk for becoming obese and being obese can put you more at risk for developing clinical depression. depressed overweight person

While depression is common, it’s a serious mood disorder that can affect nearly every aspect of your life, including making it difficult to sleep, work, engage in personal relationships, and manage other important aspects of your health.

If you’re living with obesity and depression, treating one condition may be helpful towards improving the other, but always talk to your doctor specifically about experiencing depression to ensure you are receiving the treatment you need.

Weight Loss Can Lead to a Healthier You

There may be many different aspects of your health that you didn’t realize were being impacted by obesity. In addition to its well-known positive health impact on major health issues like heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes, bariatric surgery has been shown to improve, resolve, or prevent dozens of other health conditions.

Contact us today to explore your surgical and nonsurgical weight loss options!

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