Eating too much during the holidays or on occasion will not cause any long-term health effects to the body. However, when a person consistently overeats the body cannot use all the extra calories and stores the extra calories and fat which can lead to many health problems.
The body uses calories from food to allow the muscles, organs, tissues and cells to function. Each person requires a different amount of calories based on their age, height, current weight, activity level and gender. Extra calories are stored as fat for future use; however, many people do not use these fat stores and become overweight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines being overweight as a body mass index between 25 and 29.9. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2008, 34 percent of American adults were overweight.
Overeating can lead to a person gaining enough weight to be considered obese. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person is considered obese when their body mass index is greater than 30. Those who have family members that are overweight or obese have a tendency to be overweight or obese themselves, according to "Nutrition Concepts and Controversies."
Overeating can cause a person to develop high cholesterol. There are three types of cholesterol: healthy cholesterol called high-density lipoprotein, unhealthy cholesterol called low-density lipoprotein and the unhealthy triglycerides. According to MayoClinic.com, a person's total cholesterol is considered high when it is 240mg/dl or above. LDL cholesterol is considered high when it is between 160 and 189 mg/dL. The healthy cholesterol, HDL numbers are considered unhealthy when they fall bellow 40mg/dl for men and 50mg/dl for women.
High Blood Pressure
When overeating leads to becoming overweight or obese, people are at an increased risk of having high blood pressure. When there is extra weight, more blood is needed to supply oxygen to the body and creates more pressure on the artery walls. Blood pressure is determined by two numbers, the first called systolic is how much blood your heart pumps. The second number called diastolic is the amount of resistance the blood encounters in the arteries. Normal blood pressure is considered to be 120/80mmHg or lower.
Gaining weight because of overeating increases the chance of developing heart disease. This is due to the fact that being overweight or obese causes high cholesterol and high blood pressure, among other health problems that are risk factors for heart disease. Heart disease is an umbrella term used to categorize heart-related diseases such as atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease and can result in having a stroke or heart attack.
- "Nutrition and Concepts and Controversies 10th Edition"; Sizer, Frances and Whitney, Eli; 2006
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Obesity and Overweight
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Healthy Weight
- MayoClinic.com: Cholesterol Levels