It’s important to feel good about yourself. High self-esteem is one of the keys to success in life. There’s nothing worse than getting made fun of because of the way you look, or not being able to fit into the clothes you like because they don’t come in your size. For these reasons, many people tend to focus on the appearance side of things when it comes to obesity.
Unfortunately, this is a mistaken, and deadly, perspective. On average, more than 50% of adults in North America, the UK, and Australia are overweight. Of these, the majority don’t face and deal with their weight problems because they think that admitting the need to exercise and eat healthy means admitting that there is something wrong with them as people.
It is one of the great tragedies of modern life that overweight and obesity have become image issues, because the truth of the matter is that they are serious health concerns. Being obese means being at risk of developing a whole host of diseases as unhealthy organs begin to struggle.
As we gain weight, it becomes increasingly likely that we will develop Type 2 Diabetes. Excess fat makes it difficult for our bodies to absorb insulin produced by the pancreas. This causes high levels of sugar to build up in our bloodstream.
Once we have Type 2 Diabetes, we have to spend the rest of our lives carefully monitoring our health and dealing with symptoms such as dizziness, blurred vision, fatigue, increased risk of infection, and for men, erectile dysfunction. If untreated, Type 2 Diabetes can lead to seizures, blindness and organ failure.
The hard fact is that 80% of Type 2 Diabetes sufferers contract the disease due to overweight and obesity.
Obese individuals are also at risk of developing heart disease. Elevated levels of fat in the bloodstream (triglycerides), and high blood pressure can eventually lead to heart attacks, strokes, angina, congestive heart failure, and sudden cardiac death.
As we gain weight, carrying our body around and pumping blood through it becomes increasingly difficult for our hearts. The more we clog and scar our hearts with fat and bad cholesterol, the more likely they are to give out on us early in life.
Obesity puts us at risk of developing many of the worst forms of cancer. Breast cancer, cancer of the kidneys, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, and uterine cancer are all more likely to take hold in obese bodies than in healthy bodies. Fortunately, even a small amount of weight loss, and a small increase in physical activity will reduce the risk of getting obesity-related cancers.
As we age and become heavier, losing weight and exercising becomes harder and harder to accomplish. We develop respiratory problems such as asthma and sleep apnea. We suffer from arthritis, which we are increasingly likely to developing for every few pounds that we gain. Our organs, shot through with veins of fat, stop working properly. We experience weakness, and decreased endurance. We put our joints under such severe strain that by middle age, even climbing a short flight of stairs becomes a difficult, if not impossible, task.
In these ways, obesity becomes a life path that is increasingly difficult to turn from. Most people just gain more and more weight each year until they inevitably succumb to one of the weight-related diseases we have just discussed.
The best way to avoid this future is to develop healthy eating and exercise habits early in life. However, no one is trapped forever by obesity. Just as small measures of weight gain decrease our level of health significantly, small steps in the direction of weight loss can make a huge difference to how good we feel, and to how long we live. We all owe it to ourselves, and to our loved ones, to get off the path of disease and death, and onto the road to health and longevity.
Just remember, even the smallest steps in the right direction make a difference!