With summer around the corner, many people are preparing for beach season and trying to look their best, but there are even more important reasons to try to shed extra weight. Excess body fat has several adverse effects on the human body. People who are only slightly overweight may not experience health consequences, but the higher your BMI, the more your risk increases. BMI is an estimate of body fat. A BMI over 30 indicates obesity and a high risk for health problems.

Here are five things you may not know about body fat and its consequences on your health:

1. Fat is an Organ

Fat isn’t just a stagnate part of the body that sits there waiting to be used if food supplies run short. It’s a metabolically active body system, an organ in its own right. Ongoing research indicates that body fat in different parts of the body produces different hormones and affects metabolism. Some types of fat produce hormones like leptin (a hormone that regulates appetite) and estrogen. Visceral fat (fat around internal organs) is more metabolically active than subcutaneous fat (the fat under your skin). Visceral fat may produce certain proteins that cause inflammation and narrow blood vessels. This is why it’s more dangerous to carry fat on your belly than on your hips and thighs.

The estrogen produced by excess body fat can lead to hormone imbalances in both men and women. High estrogen levels increase inflammation and can lead to various health problems, including endometriosis, fatigue, difficulty losing weight, depression, and anxiety. Obese women are more likely to develop hormone-related cancers like breast cancer.

2. Obesity Raises Risk of Mortality From All Causes

Heart disease and type two diabetes aren’t the only potentially deadly illnesses associated with obesity. According to the CDC, obesity raises the risk of early mortality from all causes. During the Covid-19 pandemic, doctors quickly realized that obese patients were much more likely to be hospitalized and more likely to die than patients with a healthy weight. The same is true for other illnesses like the flu and pneumonia. Some studies indicate that obese people are more likely to contract these illnesses even after vaccination than non-obese people.

There are several reasons why obesity has such an impact on the severity of contagious illnesses. Part of it has to do with comorbidity (illnesses that occur simultaneously). Many obese people have diabetes, heart problems, sleep apnea, or other conditions that put them at a higher risk for disease and death. Even when these conditions are not present, obese people have higher rates of inflammation and poorer immune response. The extra weight can also strain the lungs and heart, making respiratory diseases especially difficult to cope with.

Obesity puts you at a higher risk of dying in a car accident. It can also limit range of motion and impact mobility, upping the chances for other types of accidents and injuries.

3. Being Overweight Increases Risk of Chronic Disease

Again, the usual suspects like heart disease and diabetes are not the only offenders. Obese people are also at a higher risk for arthritis, colon cancer, fibromyalgia, and multiple sclerosis. Overweight individuals with a BMI of over 25 are also at an increased risk compared to leaner peers. Being overweight or obese worsens pre-existing chronic illnesses like type-1 diabetes and increases the risk of serious complications. Since type 1 diabetes takes a toll on the heart, these patients need to maintain a healthy weight and eat a heart-healthy diet to reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke.

Inflammation, hormone imbalances, and immune problems are most likely responsible for the increased risk of chronic illness in overweight people. Arthritis in the knees and hips can also be caused by increased wear and tear due to the mechanical effects of excess weight.

4. Why It’s Hard to Lose Weight

Many people who struggle with excess weight try diet and exercise plans with little success. Unfortunately, obesity can be a self-perpetuating problem. The hormonal and metabolic changes caused by excess body fat can make it more difficult to lose weight. Addressing these issues first may improve weight loss success.

Medical weight loss programs use blood tests to diagnose thyroid issues, insulin resistance, and other hormonal factors that may be making it tough for you to lose weight. These can be addressed with a combination of medication and diet.

5. The Role of Food

While the elevated risk for disease is caused partly by the metabolic effects of extra body fat, it is sometimes difficult for science to separate diet from the equation. For instance, people who eat less fiber are more likely to be overweight, but they are at a greater risk for colon cancer even when they aren’t overweight. Eating a diet of processed foods high in calories and poor in nutrients can lead to weight gain and health problems caused by malnutrition. Obese people who begin eating a healthy diet of whole, unprocessed food, including lean meat, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, may be able to reduce their risk for disease even before they lose weight.

Some people may struggle to lose weight even on a healthy diet. This is where a medically guided diet that addresses issues like insulin resistance can help. Once metabolic issues are corrected, it’s easier to maintain a healthy weight on a sustainable diet plan.

Medical Weight Loss in Houston

At Vanguard Spine & Sport, we provide medical weight loss using the ideal protein diet. Our specialists evaluate patients for underlying conditions that may be making weight loss difficult and help them get the treatment they need. Obesity is a medical problem and should be treated with a medical solution. Schedule a consultation today to find out how medical weight loss can change your life.