Obesity: The Other Pandemic of the 21st Century
Chapter focus: ‘Comorbidities associated with obesity’
Authored by John Wilding and Ada Cuevas
Following the release of ‘Obesity: The Other Pandemic of the 21st Century’, World Obesity's essential guide to obesity research, we will be highlighting a chapter each month for our readers.
This month we take a look at a chapter that investigates the physiological disorders and mental health conditions that contribute to shorter lifespans and diminished quality of life in the patient with obesity.
The authors guide us through mechanical and metabolic impairments resulting from obesity (issues such as sleep apnoea or intra-abdominal pressure), before considering the various disease areas associated with obesity.
Drawing on decades of research and experience in the field, Cuevas and Wilding consider the interplay between increased adiposity and diseases such as CVD, as well as some less recognised patterns of disease.
Starting with Type 2 Diabetes, the authors explain that obesity results in the increased release of fatty acids into the bloodstream, a direct contributor to diabetes. Under the section dedicated to liver disease, Cuevas and Wilding demonstrate that patients with obesity will be more likely to display fatty liver, in turn leading to steatohepatitis, cirrhosis and carcinoma.
Looking at cancer, Cuevas and Wilding explain that adipose tissue leads to the ‘release of tumour growth factors’ and ‘hormonal impairments such as oestrogen production’, tending to increased risk of breast cancer among women.
Other disease areas covered include kidney disease, GERD, neurological conditions (including evidence that links obesity to increased prevalence of Alzheimer’s), osteoarticular problems and respiratory disease. All of these may shorten the lifespan of the patient living with obesity.
The authors go on to consider the psychological consequences associated with obesity, from depression and anxiety to eating disorders and addiction - factors that may severely diminish quality of life for people with obesity.
The broader socio-economic consequences of obesity are not neglected either, with the authors highlighting the direct costs of obesity through increased healthcare interventions, but also indirect costs such as increased unemployment rates among those with obesity, absenteeism and presenteeism, welfare costs and the years of lost life.