You may not have thought about it, but weight loss has some amazing “side effects”. We all know that medications have side effects, some of them life threatening. And that is true of common prescriptions for common conditions. Since we typically associated “side effects” with prescription medications, let’s consider some common current examples:
- JAMA Internal Medicine Journal (Aug 5, 2013). Women using calcium channel blockers to lower blood pressure for 10 years have a 150% increased risk of breast cancer.
- Beta-blockers, such as propranolol or atenolol, used for blood pressure, slow the metabolism about 186 calories per day, causing weight gain and fatigue, which can devastate one’s quality of life.
- The “water pill” hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) for blood pressure increases blood sugars and can trigger diabetes.
- Common statin medications for cholesterol can increase blood sugars, impair muscle function, and cause severe body aches.
Not great news on the medication front…. With that background information, however, you can imagine what a rewarding week I had helping multiple patients discontinue or avoid these problem prescriptions by simply losing weight. Medical experts now agree that excess body weight from too many calories inside too many fat cells, is a potentially life-threatening disease that has many negative health effects. Weight gain too often causes more medical problems that result in more medications that have more side effects! The good news is that through weight loss, you can achieve an almost endless number of POSITIVE “Side Effects”!
Obesity is a disease that no one wants, no one deserves and is a real “bother” in many ways:
- Clothes no longer fit
- Activities are more difficult
- Self-confidence with others dwindles
- Personal self-esteem suffers
- Overall quality of life is just not at its full potential
Further, as a physician advocating for those struggling with their weight, I’ve seen first hand the devastating medical consequences that often occur. However, weight loss often has transformational health benefits. Here are 22 of those surprising, transformational “side effects” of weight loss:
Maintaining Normal Weight Compared To Excess Body Fat:
- Heart Disease (slash the risk of heart attack and heart disease death by half!)
- Cancer (reduce the risk of cancer by 45%, including breast, prostate, colon, others…)
- Stroke (80% greater risk of stroke if obese compared to normal weight)
- Dementia (80% greater risk of dementia if obese, also smaller brain size if obese)
- Diabetes Type 2 (about 90% of cases occur in those who are overweight, conversely, a 22 lb weight loss could restore 35% of the reduction in life expectancy)
- Fatigue (excess weight is almost always associated with less energy)
- High Blood Pressure (550% increased risk if obese, lose 10 lbs to lower BP 5 points)
- High Cholesterol (each 20 lbs of weight gain raises cholesterol by 10%)
- Osteoarthritis (joint pain scores are 54% higher with a 23 lb higher weight)
- Sleep Apnea (weight loss is the best treatment and many are “healed” by losing 30-50 lbs)
- Asthma (100% increase in risk if obese)
- Sexual Dysfunction (erectile dysfunction, low T, female sexual dysfunction, low libido common with obesity)
- Gallstones (risk drops about 1% for each pound of weight loss)
- Depression / Anxiety (present in over half of those with obesity)
- Parkinson’s Disease (200% increased risk if obese compared to normal weight)
- Low Self-Esteem (opportunities for jobs, promotions, colleges, housing, relationships are limited if obese, bullying occurs in obese children… all damage self-esteem)
- Unwanted limitations on physical activity with obesity
- Medical costs ($1,426 lower medical expenses per year at normal weight vs obese)
- Fatty liver (a 10% weight gain can increase fat deposits in liver by 100%)
- Motor Vehicle Accident death risk (89% higher if obese and in an accident compared to normal weight)
- Sudden Death (Obese individuals have a 40 times higher rate of unexplained sudden death)
- Life expectancy of children. (Obese children are twice as likely to die by age 55 compared to normal weight children.)
The medical impact of obesity is painful, expensive, pleasure-limiting, quality of life-limiting and, at times, deadly! When we look at the above list of the positive benefits from weight loss, it becomes quite clear that everyone should pursue and maintain a healthy (or healthier) body weight. It is simply the right thing to do.
Determining the effective tools and strategies to achieve this, one person at time, often requires a personalized medical approach and is my professional passion. If you are in the danger zone of overweight by having gained 20 lbs or more as an adult and are currently struggling to get control, get the assistance necessary for success. It’s worth it!
For Optimum Health,
Rick Tague, M.D., M.P.H.