• You're all caught up!

The Effects of Obesity and Being Overweight on the Body

author image M. Gideon Hoyle
M. Gideon Hoyle is a writer living outside of Houston. Previously, he produced brochures and a wide variety of other materials for a nonprofit educational foundation. He now specializes in topics related to health, exercise and nutrition, publishing for various websites.
The Effects of Obesity and Being Overweight on the Body
An man reclining in an office chair with his hand on his stomach. Photo Credit Rahul79/iStock/Getty Images

Obesity and overweight are common terms used to describe body-fat ranges that seriously increase your risks for health ailments. These ranges are commonly determined with a measurement system called body mass index, or BMI. In addition to raising your long-term disease risks, being obese or overweight can trigger a variety of noticeable effects on your body.

Day-to-Day Effects

If you’re overweight, day-to-day physical changes associated with your condition may include pain in your joints or back, high perceived body temperature and excessive sweating, breathlessness with minor exertion, rashes in the folds of your skin, development of a wear-and-tear form of arthritis called osteoarthritis, and the onset of sleep apnea, a potentially dangerous disruption of your breathing during sleep. Additional possible effects of excessive weight include high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, dangerous fat accumulations on your liver, female infertility, the development of gallstones and increasing resistance to the effects of insulin, a hormone needed to control the glucose content of your blood.

Metabolic Syndrome

Some overweight and obese individuals have simultaneous health risks associated with their weight, including large amounts of abdominal fat, high blood pressure, increased insulin resistance, low levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol and high levels of harmful LDL cholesterol and a fatty blood-borne substance called triglyceride. Together, these risks constitute a condition called metabolic syndrome. If you have metabolic syndrome, you have significantly increased risks for the development of serious ailments such as coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Additional Effects

Apart from metabolic syndrome, being overweight or obese significantly increases your risks for the development of various types of heart-related problems, including hardening of your arteries, chest pain, heart attack and heart failure, which occurs when your heart can’t pump sufficient amounts of blood to your body. Carrying excessive amounts of body fat also increases your risks for cancer in your gallbladder, colon, breast and the endometrial lining in your uterus. Being overweight can also trigger the onset of polycystic ovarian syndrome, a disorder that disrupts several aspects of a normal menstrual cycle.


Typical BMI testing uses your weight-to-height ratio to assess your body-fat levels and determine your potential weight-related health risks. However, your doctor must also include other factors when determining your actual risks, including your waist circumference and level of physical activity. Obesity is increasingly common in American children, and obese or overweight children have significantly increased chances of retaining their weight levels into adulthood. Consult your doctor for more information.

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
THE LIVESTRONG.COM MyPlate Nutrition, Workouts & Tips
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
  • Female
  • Male
ft. in.



Demand Media