The Obesity Factor

What is the one thing a person can do that will improve all of the health markers used in medicine? The answer is simple…lose excess weight.  In turn the opposite is true as well.  When we gain unneeded (and unwanted) pounds, our health markers tend to decline.  To be clear, a few pounds here and there may not have dramatic consequences but when a person reaches the point of obesity, health issues begin to abound.  Because of these significant health risks, this is blog is the first of a three part series related to Obesity, Diabetes, and diabetic complications

Define Obesity

In order to define obesity, a common metric known as the Body Mass Index is used to compare across different populations, such as ethnic groups, nationalities, etc.  It considers two things, a persons weight and height.  According to the CDC, obesity is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 30. 

Obesity Epidemic

A recent article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reported an obesity rate of 40.4% in women, and 35% in men.  In addition, severe obesity was reported as 9.9% in women and 5.5% in men.  While these statistics may be staggering, the startling reality is that obesity rates are increasing dramatically in women regardless of demographic and lifestyle factors. Obesity rates in men on the other hand have not increased significantly over the past decade.  Furthermore, according to the American heart association, 1 in 3 adults are obese in America, and another third of Americans are overweight!  This truly is an epidemic with significant health issues, to say nothing of the stress and burden placed on the health care system.

Obesity Complications

Obesity is rarely lonely.  In fact it has a myriad of debilitating “friends” or conditions that accompany it. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, heart disease, stroke, cancer, gout, sleep apnea, and bone fractures, to name a few.  One of the worst cronies of obesity, however, is type 2 diabetes. 

Diabetes type 2, is a condition which can develop after the body has been exposed to prolonged and chronic over-feeding, causing it to become insulin resistant.  This results in high blood sugar levels that can wreak havoc on multiple body systems, including the peripheral nervous system.  Once the nerves have been damaged, a person with diabetes my experience burning or tingling initially which can progress to a total loss of sensation in the legs and feet. Big deal right? Well in fact, this is the foundation for major medical problems, and will be the topic of next week’s blog, so stay tuned!!

Aside from type 2 diabetes, the feet often suffer from obesity.  Individuals with higher BMI’s report foot pain more often than those with lower BMI’s.  Often times, obesity leads to biomechanical changes in gait, resulting in an abnormal gait pattern.  Other complications can include osteoarthritis of the foot and ankle, loss of arch support, stress fractures, or even major pathological fractures.

If you are beginning to experience pain or even lack of sensation in your feet due to obesity related issues, please don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona. 

 

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