Obesity and its Danger to Health

by Kevin Broyles
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By Dr. Gabriela Ruck T.

The world is undergoing a transition in terms of specific endemic pathologies (diseases particular to the location). Life expectancy has increased worldwide which has brought with it chronic diseases with no cure but that can be controlled. In Bolivia, until a few years ago, life expectancy was up to 45 years, now it reaches 65 years. Life expectancy increase in world population has its advantages and disadvantages. People may see their grandchildren grow, even their great-grandchildren; however they will be susceptible to developing chronic diseases.

There are genetic and risk factors to develop these pathologies. The combination of both factors increase the risk of carrying the above mentioned pathologies. That is, a person may have the genetic factor (family inheritance), but if that person avoids the risk factors (modifiable factors present around), that individual may not carry any chronic diseases throughout life. However, another individual may not carry genetic factors but if that person has risk factors in life, this may aggravate or trigger a chronic pathology.
 
Sedentary lifestyle, diet, tobacco and alcohol are present in each person's lifestyle and they have been shown to influence people's health long term. A sedentary lifestyle that leads to overweight and this can lead to obesity the latter being a risk factor for chronic pathologies such as hypertension, diabetes and hypercholesterolemia.

When our body tends to gain weight (eating too much without getting regular physical activity), the heart begins to work more than it is used to. The body tends to retain more sodium and water. Studies have shown that hypertension is a consequence of obesity in many cases. There are two types of hypertension: essential hypertension, primary or idiopathic hypertension and secondary hypertension due to some other pathology. Hypertension at first can be asymptomatic resulting in irreversibly harm to important body organs such as the kidneys.
 
Obesity is also a risk factor for diabetes. When the body consumes a lot of carbohydrates, these are converted into glucose which through insulin can enter the cells to fulfill its function. In type II diabetes mellitus, insulin is insufficient to perform its function, thereby generating too much glucose in the body causing damage to the human organism by affecting organs such as the kidneys, eyes, etc.
 
The consequences of these chronic diseases diminish the quality of life or shorten it. It is important to lead a healthy life by eating healthy and without excess. The diet must include: vegetables, fruits, meats, and abundant liquids, avoid junk food. Physical activity must be constant. It is also important to get routine medical checkups to control our health, especially if we present genetic and risk factors for these diseases.