Overweight: an early sign of poor health

Changing lifestyle habits can help you find your healthy weight.

People who are overweight, especially those whose excess fat is located in the abdominal area, are most often affected by what is called metabolic syndrome, a combination of hypertension, hyperglycemia and hypertriglyceridemia which significantly increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

A small proportion of overweight people do not have these metabolic disturbances typical of overweight. These people have normal blood sugar and insulin levels, are not hypertensive, and have a normal blood lipid profile. They therefore appear to be in good metabolic health.

Deceptive and dangerous apparent good health

A very large study of 3.5 million people showed that obese people considered to be in good metabolic health remain at higher risk of coronary heart disease (59% increase), stroke (7% increase) and heart failure (96% increase) compared to those of normal weight.

According to another important study, this increased risk of cardiovascular disease observed in obese people is due to the fact that this apparent state of good metabolic health is transient and illusory. The researchers observed that about half of the obese people had developed metabolic syndrome during the 10 years of the study, and that the earlier the onset of this syndrome, the greater the risk of cardiovascular disease.

In other words, if the body can compensate in the short term for the imbalances caused by obesity, this adaptation remains most of the time temporary and prolonged exposure to obesity ends up unbalancing the metabolism and inducing the development of cardiovascular diseases and cancers. .

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Arthritis, phlebitis, infertility, overweight also weighs where you least expect it

It is also important to mention that the effects of obesity are not limited to the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Even in cases where an obese person appears to be in good metabolic health, they nevertheless remain at a higher risk of developing certain diseases than people of normal weight (osteoarthritis, lung disease, phlebitis, infertility, certain types of cancer). Even if blood glucose and insulin response appear normal from an endocrinological point of view, the impact of excess weight will have orthopedic consequences (knee and hip surgery) and will still increase the risk of cancers .

Overweight, more dangerous than cigarettes

Being overweight is now the leading risk factor for cancer in the USA. This link between obesity and cancer is particularly worrying: according to analyzes carried out by the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), being overweight increases the risk of thirteen types of cancer, and up to 55% of new cases of cancers diagnosed in women since 2014 are directly linked to excess weight. Same phenomenon in the United Kingdom, where a study recently showed that obesity will overtake smoking as the main cause of cancer in women within a few years.

In short, we must therefore consider that obesity is a pathological condition incompatible with good health, associated with a significant increase in the risk of several serious diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and several types of cancer. Fortunately, overweight is remediable, you can adopt a healthy lifestyle that will help you find your healthy weight and thus drastically reduce the risk of serious illnesses occurring.


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Caleyachetty R et al. Metabolically healthy obese and incident cardiovascular disease events among 3.5 million men and women. J. Am. Coll. Cardiol. 2017; 70: 1429-1437.

Mongraw-Chaffin M et al. Metabolically healthy obesity, transition to metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular risk. J. Am. Coll. Cardiol. 2018; 71: 1857-1865.

Neeland IJ, P Poirier and JP Després. Cardiovascular and metabolic heterogeneity of obesity: clinical challenges and implications for management. Traffic 2018; 137: 1391–1406.

Brown KF et al. The fraction of cancer attributable to modifiable risk factors in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the United Kingdom in 2015. Br. J. of Cancer 2018; 118: 1130–1141.


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