Find a Doctor

Obesity-Related Health Problems


Obesity is now the second leading cause of death in the United States. It is also associated with an increased risk of developing or worsening more than 30 serious health conditions or diseases. Obesity impairs a person's mobility, making physical activity more difficult, compounding the problem and further increasing the risk of developing or worsening some of these conditions. Here, we review the obesity-related medical problems that are common in men and women

General Health Problems

Obesity problems can afflict men and women, teenagers, and children. There are gender- and age-related differences in the types and incidence of obesity problems, but every person who is suffering from morbid obesity has the same problem - determining the best way to safely attain normal weight. The general health problems that are common in obese men and women include:

  • Gallstones
  • Fatty liver
  • High cholesterol
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea
  • Incontinence
  • Cancer
  • Gout
  • Osteoporosis
  • Reproductive and fertility problems

Health Risks Specific to Women

Obese women are more likely than non-obese women to develop cancer of the:

  • Gallbladder
  • Breast
  • Cervix
  • Pancreas
  • Uterus
  • Ovaries
  • Endometrium

Fertility Problems in Obese Women

Obese women are also more likely to face reproductive problems such as:

  • Infertility
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome

Complications During Pregnancy

Obese women are more likely to suffer some complications during pregnancy, including:

  • Gestational diabetes
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Higher risk of a cesarean delivery or complications with cesarean delivery

Health Risks Specific to Men

Because obese men tend to store fat in their upper body, and women store fat in their lower bodies, obese men are more likely than obese women to develop diabetes and heart disease. Obese men are more likely to develop cancer of the:

  • Colon
  • Rectum
  • Prostate
  • Kidney
  • Esophagus

Fertility Problems in Obese Men

Obese men also face an increased risk of infertility due to lower sperm motility.

Psychological and Social Effects

While morbid obesity certainly takes a physical toll on the body, it also takes a psychological toll. Some of obesity's worst effects are emotional pain and suffering. Society does not look kindly upon those who are very overweight, and many people do not understand obesity's causes and effects.

Additionally, there is the common misconception that all obese people are simply lazy, which is absolutely not true. Nevertheless, this misconception leads to prejudices and discrimination in the job market, at schools, and in social situations. These prejudices often cause obese people to feel rejection, shame, and depression.

Consult a Weight Loss Surgeon

If you are considering undergoing bariatric surgery, consult a local weight loss surgeon to find out if you are a good candidate for the procedure. During your consultation, your bariatric surgeon will discuss the health benefits of surgery, the lifestyle changes that required of bariatric surgery patients, as well as the potential risks of surgery. Bariatric surgery procedures such as gastric bypass and gastric banding surgery have helped thousands of patients lose significant amounts of weight; many patients lose most of the weight within the first year of surgery.

Want More Information?

Contact a Doctor Near You.