The Cleveland Clinic

Weight Loss:
Health Risks Associated With Obesity

Obesity is not just a cosmetic problem. It's a health hazard. Someone who is 40% overweight is twice as likely to die prematurely as is an average-weight person. This is because obesity has been linked to several serious medical conditions, including:

Doctors generally agree that the more obese a person is the more likely he or she is to have health problems. People who are 20% or more overweight can gain significant health benefits from losing weight. Many obesity experts believe that people who are less than 20% above their healthy weight should still try to lose weight if they have any of the following risk factors.

  • Family history of certain chronic diseases. People with close relatives who have had heart disease or diabetes are more likely to develop these problems if they are obese.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions. High blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, or high blood sugar levels are all warning signs of some obesity-associated diseases.
  • "Apple" shape. People whose weight is concentrated around their stomachs may be at greater risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, or cancer than people of the same weight who are "pear-shaped" (they carry their weight in their hips and buttocks).