Even though obesity itself isn’t a top cause of death in the United States, it can result in many of the diseases on the list. It’s a more serious health condition than many people realize, because eating too much isn’t the only reason people become dangerously overweight. Certain medications, circumstances, and other health problems can make it worse. You might not even realize how bad it’s gotten until it’s almost too late.
Obesity can cause a handful of potentially deadly issues. If you’re experiencing any of these health problems or roadblocks, you’re much more likely to die from the disease.
1. You’re always tired or in pain
- As obesity worsens, people often suffer from intense pain and fatigue.
Chronic pain and fatigue are often signs you have a much more serious health condition. If you’re also overweight, your body might be trying to tell you something.
Some studies suggest people who are overweight or obese are more likely to experience chronic pain and fatigue. Once these symptoms surface, it can become even harder for some people to make lifestyle changes.
Next: Psychological barriers could stop you from doing this.
2. You’re feeling anxious or depressed
- Many people living with obesity also experience mental health issues.
It’s not uncommon to feel depressed or anxious along with physical health issues. Unfortunately, these conditions and their symptoms can make it difficult to engage in the changes often necessary to keep you safe and healthy.
There’s no shame in admitting your mental health isn’t in the best shape it could be. It’s also OK to ask for help.
Next: Many people feel too embarrassed to take this next step.
3. You refuse to see a therapist
- When it comes to conditions such as obesity, diet often isn’t the underlying issue.
Research suggests a strong link between mental health issues and metabolic disorders such as obesity. Many people who are overweight or obese need both their mental and physical health treated — sometimes one before the other.
There is nothing wrong with going to therapy. With a little time and patience, it’s possible to find the type of counseling — and a therapist — that works for you.
Next: Don’t let this stigma endanger your life.
4. You still think medication won’t help
- The stigma of prescription medications may be more harmful than the actual meds.
While it’s true that medications have side effects — especially prescription-only weight loss drugs — that doesn’t mean you can’t try them if a doctor recommends it.
Weight loss medications are a routine part of obesity treatment. You might also have to take medications to control other health issues such as high blood pressure. Follow your doctor’s instructions, and speak with them before stopping any medications.
Next: It’s not enough to eat better. This is also important.
5. You aren’t trying to exercise more — or at all
- Exercise doesn’t have to be complicated or excessive.
For many people living with obesity, exercise isn’t as simple as getting up and walking around the block. But if a doctor suggests you start doing something, you should seriously consider it.
You won’t wake up tomorrow and be able to run a marathon or swim laps like an Olympic athlete. You have to start slow and small — walking up and down the driveway, maybe — and do more as you’re able.
Next: What you eat makes a difference — especially if you aren’t trying to change.
6. Someone has given you a diet plan, but you don’t follow it
- If there’s a problem with your diet plan, your nutritionist needs to know.
One thing that drives diet professionals crazy might be the same thing you can’t stop doing: Completely ignoring your diet plan.
Most diets don’t work if you don’t have an individualized plan telling you what you can and can’t eat. Not everyone benefits from this process to the same degree, but there’s a reason you have it. Follow it — or be honest with your nutritionist about why you aren’t.
Next: This issue is a real problem — and it can be treated.
7. You can’t stop eating
Obesity is difficult to treat because it has so many possible underlying causes. Not everyone living with the disorder got to where they are because they lacked “self-control.”
According to Harvard Health, factors such as stress can also prompt obsessive overeating. Over-consuming calories over a long period of time increases your risk of dying from all causes.
Next: Working out doesn’t make a difference if you also do this.
8. You spend most of your day sitting
- Even if you work out, you should move a little throughout the day, too.
Sitting all day doesn’t — on its own — cause obesity. But when you struggle to control your calorie intake, and you aren’t doing anything to burn through those calories, weight gain is almost always a guarantee.
If you’re already working out, great. Keep doing that. But also try to at least take a few hundred steps every hour to keep your health in check and maybe even lose a little weight.
Next: Many people with this condition don’t treat it properly — and that’s a problem.
9. You have high blood pressure
- It could damage your heart and brain — and it’s completely treatable.
Some people with high blood pressure can’t help it — it just happens. They usually have to rely on medication, even when they follow an otherwise healthy lifestyle, to stay safe. Others develop it because of risky health behaviors like physical inactivity and poor diet.
Weight gain increases your risk of high blood pressure. Uncontrolled blood pressure also increases your risk of conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
Next: People who don’t get help for this health problem risk major organ damage.
10. You have high blood sugar
- Untreated diabetes can destroy your vital organs.
People living with Type 2 diabetes have trouble controlling their blood sugar levels. If they spike too high, you could have a life-threatening stroke.
Being overweight increases your diabetes risk. The disease, if untreated, can destroy your kidneys, endanger your heart, and can even cause seizures.
Next: You can’t always treat this with medication alone.
11. You have high cholesterol
- Anyone can have this problem, but your risk increases with weight gain.
When too much cholesterol accumulates in your blood, you have a greater chance of experiencing issues like heart disease. Even though anyone can develop high cholesterol, people who are overweight or obese are more likely to receive a diagnosis.
Medication and diet modifications can help control your levels. If you already have high cholesterol, try to eat fewer of the foods that could make it worse.
Next: You can survive this health crisis, but not if it keeps happening.
12. You’ve had a stroke (or you’re at risk of having one)
- Factors like cholesterol and blood pressure also influence your risk of stroke.
The most common type of stroke occurs because of a blockage in the arteries that supply blood to your brain. Without oxygen, brain cells start to die — and often, so will you.
Obesity increases stroke risk because of factors like high cholesterol and blood pressure. It’s possible to survive a stroke, but your chances of surviving the next one aren’t so great.
Next: Many people who have this disease don’t know it — and that’s dangerous.
13. You have sleep apnea
- It’s more than disrupted sleep — it’s a risky disease.
When sources cited sleep apnea as one Carrie Fisher’s likely contributors of death, the resulting heartbreak unintentionally rose awareness of the dangers of the disease. It increases a person’s risk of stroke, heart attack, and even brain damage over time.
Obesity puts you at an increased risk of sleep apnea and its many potentially deadly side effects. Treat it, and its underlying causes, before it’s too late.
Next: Chest pain is scary. Having no symptoms at all is even worse.
14. You’ve had a heart attack (or you’re at risk of having one)
- Heart disease causes more deaths each year than any other disease.
Many people survive heart attacks; more live through them today than ever before. But poor eating habits, physical inactivity, and many other lifestyle factors increase your risk of many types of heart problems.
Heart disease often progresses without symptoms. It doesn’t discriminate by gender, race, or age. Anyone can develop it. Your chances of doing so only increase with weight gain and excess body fat.
Next: There are ways to make weight loss work for you. This isn’t one of them.
15. You keep counting on fad diets that don’t work
- Many popular diets make weight loss seem easy — and that can be discouraging.
There’s nothing wrong with taking initiative and trying to lose weight on your own. But there’s actually a pretty good reason experts say you should only trust diet and weight loss advice from trained professionals: Most of the ones you try probably won’t work. And it isn’t necessarily your fault.
Most fad diets generalize a person’s needs, abilities, and schedules. A professional nutritionist can work with you to put together a plan that will work, and check in on your progress regularly. That gives you accountability, sustainability, and hope — all things that could save your life.
Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!