The long term effects of obesity on a patient’s health are substantial and a growing concern, particularly as obesity is becoming the most significant health epidemic in the United States. Obesity is defined as the accumulation of body fat to the point where it becomes detrimental to your health. We know that as an individual’s weight increases, so does the risk of developing significant medical problems that can shorten a person’s life. The sad reality is that the disease of obesity directly or indirectly affects every part of our body. 

As bariatric surgeons, we measure obesity based on your body mass index (BMI). BMI is calculated based on your height and weight. A BMI of 25 to 30 is considered overweight, 30 to 35 is obese, and 35+ is considered morbidly obese. When a patient’s BMI exceeds 30, they are at an increased risk of developing adverse health conditions. These conditions include high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, cancers, arthritis, and depression. 

Effects of Obesity Guide

Effects of Obesity on Your Health

Obesity is a gateway for many health conditions, ultimately resulting in a lower quality of life. The longer you are affected by obesity, the more these conditions can have a long term effect on your health. Similarly, the higher your BMI, the more complex these conditions are to control, and the more severe they tend to be. Potentially leading to coronary artery disease, heart attacks, strokes, and even death.

Treating obesity can add more than ten years to your life expectancy and reduce or cure all of the weight-related comorbidities associated with your weight. Therefore, it is critical to recognize obesity as a chronic disease and understand what weight gain is doing to your body.


One pound of weight is equivalent to 4 pounds of pressure on your joints. As you lose weight, you will begin to experience less pain in your joints due to less pressure. Similarly, your body will decrease cytokine production (inflammatory chemicals released by fat cells), leading to diminished aches and pains.


Patients who have excess weight are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with diabetes because they have more fat cells, which increases insulin resistance. This results in the body being unable to regulate blood sugar levels, ultimately leading to diabetes. 


Studies have found that even a 5% increase in weight can lead to a 30% increase in the risk of developing hypertension. Many theories link obesity and hypertension due to the kidneys not functioning properly since the kidneys play a vital role in filtering the blood. The heavier a person is, the less effective their kidneys are at removing excess waste and liquid from the bloodstream, ultimately leading to the buildup of waste in the body. Similarly, when the kidneys do not function properly, hormones designed to regulate blood pressure are not secreted by this organ.

Heart Disease

Heart disease is commonly associated with cholesterol—a fat-like substance. The liver produces a sustainable amount of cholesterol to help the body encourage new cell and hormone growth. However, cholesterol is also consumed through fatty foods, which can result in plaque buildup in the artery walls over time. As expected, your diet significantly affects your weight; therefore, overweight individuals are at a higher risk of developing heart disease.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Patients who are overweight are prone to sleep apnea because the soft tissue in their neck blocks the airway, preventing the patient from breathing. Having sleep apnea can prevent you from losing weight as well. When you have obstructive sleep apnea, you never reach REM sleep and, therefore never get a good night’s rest. As a result, you are always tired, leading to patients consuming unhealthy food and drinks.


There are many long term and harmful effects of obesity. Obesity is a crucial driver of many of the leading causes of death, pain, and suffering in America and worldwide. For patients struggling with the disease of obesity, we strongly encourage them to look into bariatric surgery as a treatment option for losing weight and curing their medical conditions.

This article was originally published on the Bariatric Centers of America website.