Health Risks Associated with Obesity (cont.)

How Is Obesity Related to Gallbladder Disease?

Gallbladder disease and gallstones are more common if you are overweight. Your risk of disease increases as your weight increases. It is not clear how being overweight may cause gallbladder disease.

Ironically, weight loss itself, particularly rapid weight loss or loss of a large amount of weight, can actually increase your chances of developing gallstones. Modest, slow weight loss of about 1 pound a week is less likely to cause gallstones.

How Does Obesity Cause Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a common joint condition that most often affects the knee, hip, and lower back joints. Carrying extra pounds places extra pressure on these joints and wear away the cartilage (tissue that cushions the joints) that normally protects them.

Weight loss can decrease stress on the knees, hips, and lower back and may improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

How Is Obesity Linked to Gout?

Gout is a disease that affects the joints that is caused by high levels of a substance called uric acid in the blood. The large amount of uric acid can form into solid or crystal-like masses that deposit in the joints. Gout is more common in overweight people and the risk of developing the disorder increases with higher body weights.

Over the short term, certain dietary changes may lead to an attack of gout in people who have high levels of uric acid or who have had gout before. If you have a history of gout, check with your doctor before trying to lose weight.

How Is Obesity Linked to Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a serious breathing condition that is associated with being overweight. Sleep apnea can cause a person to snore heavily and to stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Sleep apnea may cause daytime sleepiness and even heart failure. The risk for sleep apnea increases as body weight increases. Weight loss usually improves sleep apnea.

Reviewed by the Department of Nutrition Therapy at The Cleveland Clinic.

Edited by Charlotte Grayson, MD, WebMD, August 2004.

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Last Editorial Review: 7/14/2005