Complications of Obesity

Learn more about the causes and effects of obesity and how to treat it.

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Complications of Obesity

Good nutrition and healthy energy levels are important parts of a healthy life. Obesity is a common concern that can affect the body’s ability to function in the healthiest possible way.

According to the CDC, obesity affected about 93.3 million adults in the U.S. from 2015-2016 and 13.7 million children and adolescents. While diet and exercise are the most well-known methods of controlling and preventing obesity, there are many other factors that can play into it.

What Causes Obesity?

Obesity is a complex medical condition that happens when a person carries excess weight or body fat that might affect their health. Obesity results from a combination of causes and contributing factors, including:

  • Family history and influences: Scientists say genetics can play a role in how efficiently the body converts food into energy. Obesity Action also points out that families can also play a role in the development of obesity because families tend to share similar diets and exercise habits.
  • Medications: Some medications, including certain anti-depressants, anti-seizure, diabetes, steroids and anti-psychotics can cause weight gain.
  • Poor sleep quality and stress can also make things worse.

It is difficult to pinpoint one exact cause for overweight and obesity. It can also be very difficult once a person is overweight or obese to effectively lose weight.

Obesity Complications

Obesity is a serious concern because it is linked to poorer health outcomes and reduced quality of life. When obesity goes untreated, people risk developing other serious health problems. According to the CDC, obesity can increase one’s risk of having a heart attack or stroke or developing any of the following conditions:

  • All causes of death (mortality)
  • High blood pressure (Hypertension)
  • High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides (Dyslipidemia)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis (a breakdown of cartilage and bone within a joint)
  • Sleep apnea and breathing problems
  • Digestive problems
  • Certain cancers
  • Depression
  • Infertility

Treatment of Obesity

Obesity is complicated and there is no single solution to the epidemic, but there are several things that may help. Talk to your physician at Valleywise Health to help you create a weight loss plan that is right for you.

Establishing a healthy diet and a regular exercise routine is key to maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding obesity-related health risks. A healthy diet pattern follows the Dietary Guidelines for Americans which emphasizes eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat and fat-free dairy products and drinking water. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity, or a combination of both, along with 2 days of strength training per week.

The key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight isn’t short-term dietary changes; it’s about a lifestyle that includes healthy eating and regular physical activity. Here are some things you can do and websites you can visit to learn more.

Assessing Your Weight

BMI and waist circumference are two screening tools to estimate weight status and potential disease risk.

Healthy Weight

A high BMI can be an indicator of high body fat. Visit the Healthy Weight Website; learn about balancing calories, losing weight, and maintaining a healthy weight.


Healthy eating habits are a key factor for a healthy weight. Visit the ChooseMyPlate Website; look up nutritional information of foods, track your calorie intake, plan meals, and find healthy recipes.

Physical Activity Basics

Physical activity is important for health and a healthy weight. Learn about different kinds of physical activity and the guidelines for the amount needed each day.

Tips for Parents

Learn about the seriousness of childhood obesity and how to help your child establish healthy behaviors.
In certain cases, your doctor may recommend or be open to discussing alternative options with you – this can include bariatric surgery or FDA-approved prescription weight loss medications.

There are many options for people who are concerned about their weight – and in most cases, a change in diet and exercise can help you make a significant difference.

Come speak to a physician at Valleywise Health for more information about obesity and how you can take steps to a healthier version of yourself.



About the Author

Nyima Ali, MD - Obstetrics

Nyima S. Ali, MD, is a District Medical Group physician at Valleywise Health in Phoenix, AZ. She currently practices full scope obstetrics and surgical gynecology at Valleywise Community Health Center in South Phoenix. She is board-certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She studied medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine where she received her MD with honors in research. Dr. Ali completed her four-year residency at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, PA in 2014. She is a Diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine. She is also an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She focuses on supporting underserved patients and vulnerable populations through her own direct care and through influencing system-wide medical practices, research and advocacy.

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