Many Surprisingly Unaware of Obesity’s Hidden Risks

The increased risks of heart disease and diabetes are among the more common dangers of obesity. Nutritionists, dietitians and have been warning us about being dangerously overweight for decades now. But too many people are still unaware of the other ways obesity can damage their health.


Exceeding one’s recommended BMI (Body Mass Index) can elevate your risk of cancers, arthritis, sleep apnea and infertility. What’s really alarming is that according to the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, few Americans know about these added risks. In fact, a scant 7 percent were aware of obesity’s elevated cancer risk, and only 15 percent knew that obesity may lead to arthritis, which in turn, impacts your ability to exercise, causing you to gain even more weight. Sadly, as many as 25 percent of respondents were under the impression that being substantially overweight had little bearing on their health.


This “head in the sand” attitude was equally alarming in parents. Only 16 percent thought their child was overweight. Yet government figures show that one-third of children and teens are either overweight or obese. Many nutritionists blame the “fast food” generation who seek foods based on taste and price—not nutrition. Many studies show that children and teens eat too many burgers, potato chips, and pizzas swished down by oversized colas, shakes and sugar-laden fruit drinks. Many teens have also succumbed to the lure of energy drinks, which contain huge amounts of sugar and caffeine.



An unsettling number of people had no idea that obesity can raise the risk of developing cancers of the colon, prostate, uterus and breast. Being overweight makes it more difficult for doctors to locate and treat tumors early. An alarming number of Americans were also unaware of obesity’s connection to high cholesterol, high blood pressure and resultant strokes. Surprisingly, just 5 percent were aware of the connection between obesity and respiratory problems sleep apnea and asthma.


Obesity can also uniquely affect women’s health. A Nurses’ Health Study, which looked at over 100,000 middle-age women during a 14-year period, noted that women with BMIs between 20 and 24 suffered from low infertility. During pregnancy, obesity elevates the risk of early and late miscarriage, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and complications during labor and delivery. Finally, the AP-NORC Center survey concluded that less than 50 percent had discussed obesity’s health risks with their doctor.


Foods That Reduce Your Risk of Disease

You are what you eat. How many times have we heard that from nutritionists and doctors? Research conducted by Loma Linda University notes that there may be a link between what we eat and the prevention of disease.

Save Your Heart

beans, peas, lentils and soybeans
beans, peas, lentils and soybeans

We’ve all heard about good and bad cholesterol. Eating more legumes—like beans, peas, lentils and soybeans—can raise your levels of good cholesterol and lower your levels of bad cholesterol. Nutritionists also suggest that using healthier oils— like olive, peanut and canola are a much healthier alternative. These oils are rich in monounsaturated fats. Want to lower your blood cholesterol? Spice up those meals with a little garlic, which contains allicin, a proven cholesterol reducer. Tea lovers will be pleased to note that their favorite beverage contains antioxidants, which can help reduce the build-up of fatty deposits in arteries. Tea can also enhance blood vessel dilation for better blood flow. If your blood cholesterol levels are elevated, add some soy protein to your diet. It can lower your LDL cholesterol levels.

Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

salads without dressing
salads without dressing

Breast cancer continues to take the lives of too many women every year. To reduce your risk, eat your salads without the dressing. Cook with chicken broth or vegetable stock and forget the margarine. Avoid high fat content foods, fried foods and those with trans fats. Stay away from processed meats and cold cuts. Opt for fish and shiitake mushrooms, which are high in Vitamin D.

Cut Your Risk of Prostate Cancer

tomato-based foods
tomato-based foods

Prostate cancer is a major killer of men as they get older. To reduce your risk, eat more tomato-based foods, which can lower your risk of prostate cancer by 20-45 percent. Researchers note that the lycopene, an antioxidant found in tomatoes and tomato products may help reduce your prostate cancer risk. Eating apples and onions, drinking tea, and occasionally red wine with meals can also help.

Urinary Tract Infections & IBS

blueberries, cranberries, cherries
blueberries, cranberries, cherries

These diseases can vary from bothersome to serious. To reduce your chance of urinary tract infections, try eating more blueberries, cranberries, unsweetened cranberry juice and cherries. All contain ingredients that limit the ability of bacteria to bind to bladder tissue. For Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), eat more fruits, vegetables, flaxseed and dried plums. And do drink enough water to flush out your system. Eating more barley, oats, brown rice, and unsweetened dried fruits can also help reduce your chances of getting IBX.

Fewer Flus & Colds

fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C
fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C

Tired of catching a cold at the drop of a hat? Eating more fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C can help. Try adding more oranges to your breakfast and lunch, or adding more red bell peppers to your dinner or lunch salad. Colorful fruits and vegetables generally have more antioxidants, including beta-carotene, vitamin E, selenium and vitamin C. All can help boost your immunity to colds and flu. The same holds true for carrots, apricots and broccoli—all are rich in beta-carotene, a substance that can strengthen your skin and mucous linings in the lungs and nose. Your skin and mucous areas are prime targets for cold germs. Another cold-cutting food is low fat yogurt, which is rife with immunity-boosting probiotics.



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