Obesity and lack of exercise cause a variety of problems in both the adult and child populations of the United States. From increased risk of diseases, impact on the economy, overall poor health and psychological issues, the consequences of obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are complex and far reaching. Learning the effects of obesity and lack of exercise may encourage you to stay healthy and active.
Increased health care costs to obese, sedentary individuals and to the health-care system in general is an economic effect of the obesity crisis. A 2009 study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that obesity-related costs may be as high as $147 billion a year. If a person suffers from obesity and lives an inactive lifestyle, he spends more than 40 percent more in health care expenses than a person of normal weight. The increased need for medical attention boosts the overall cost of health care, as insurance companies may raise rates to offset the increased cost of care.
Obesity and a lack of exercise often go hand in hand. The more weight a person carries, the more difficult it can be to move and exercise. The health consequences and effects of obesity and lack of exercise are dire. According to the 2010 publication “The Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation,” more than 112,000 Americans die unnecessarily each year from preventable diseases directly related to obesity. Lack of exercise often leads to obesity, which in turn raises the risk of increased levels of bad cholesterol, heart diseases, cancers of the breast and prostate, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Effects on Children
Obese children who do not exercise experience the effects of obesity on many levels. Psychologically, an obese child may be teased by her peers and feel left out when she is unable to keep up with her faster playmates during recess or organized sports. The teasing may make her more likely to eat, stay sedentary and continue struggling with weight for years. Additionally, obese children often show increased risk factors for diseases most often seen in adults, such as increased blood pressure, a tendency toward type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.
Effects on Adults
In addition to serious health consequences of obesity and a lack of exercise, adults also experience emotional stress and trauma because of their obesity. Right or wrong, the media often portrays an ideal body shape as one that is slim and fit. This portrayal can cause a person who struggles with obesity to feel isolated. Isolation can make a person feel anxious and depressed, and these feelings may contribute to a cycle of emotional overeating. An obese, sedentary person may be less likely to join a gym or exercise class for fear of feeling uncomfortable or being unable to perform the exercises adequately.
- Health Affairs: Annual Medical Spending Attributable to Obesity: Payer-and Service-Specific Estimates
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Study Estimates Medical Cost of Obesity May Be As High as $147 Billion Annually
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: The Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Childhood Overweight and Obesity: Consequences
- Weight-control Information Network: Understanding Adult Obesity