Consequences of ‘a few extra pounds’
Korea is an easy place to throw caution to the wind when it comes to too much to eat and drink. Crazy work hours, stress from immersing into a new culture, lots of new friends and places to explore and maybe pressure to have soju with the boss: It can all lead to unhealthy choices.
Hey, it’s a few extra pounds — what’s the big deal? You can always make time to exercise and eat right when work eases up. Then you’re called in for a split shift. It can be tough to fit in exercise on the weekends, with all the exciting excursions beckoning. We all have excuses. But what are the actual consequences of a few extra pounds?
It is obvious that obesity, the condition of being unhealthily overweight, is a huge problem, and the occurrence of obesity-related illnesses is at an all-time high. The International Journal of Obesity, the American Obesity Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all agree: Being overweight is serious and obesity in particular is dangerous. Being overweight or obese puts an individual at an increased risk of developing many illnesses, including gallbladder disease, heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), dyslipidemia (high cholesterol), osteoarthritis, type-2 diabetes, stroke, sleep apnea and even cancer.
Cardiovascular disease is commonly caused by being overweight. The American Heart Association recently dubbed obesity as a leading cause of heart attacks. Arthritis, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, is especially common among the overweight and obese.
There are more unexpected effects of being overweight, too; some are more minor than others. For instance, did you know that you are more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome if you have a severe weight problem? In fact, AOA (American Obesity Association) found that 70 percent of carpal tunnel syndrome sufferers were overweight. Other effects on health include gout, an impaired immune system, respiratory problems, difficulty healing, reproductive disorders that cause infertility, liver disease, back pain, gynecological complications, pancreatitis and incontinence. Studies have even found that an obese mother is at an increased risk for a difficult pregnancy and the delivery of her newborn.
Perhaps the most alarming health effect is cancer. Obese and even overweight persons are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer of the breast, esophagus, colon, uterus and kidney.
Now that we’ve covered the dangers of obesity and being overweight, here’s the good news: Fitness can protect your heart, even if you have already put on those extra pounds.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Dr. Duck-chul Lee of the Arnold School of Public Health showed that exercising and getting fit may protect your heart. Dr. Lee was one of the first to examine how a change in fitness or fatness (or both) affects development of hypertension, high cholesterol and metabolic syndrome, a condition defined by a large waistline, high triglycerides, low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high blood sugar while fasting and high blood pressure. “Although improving fitness and losing fatness is ideally the best combination, our study also shows that as long as individuals maintain their fitness and fatness levels, which is less challenging, they are not likely to be at higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease risk factors,” said Lee, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Exercise Science.
Of course, the combination of weight loss and exercise is superior for your health. But even if you haven’t succeeded in your weight loss goals, at least you can protect your health by maintaining what’s already there. So don’t give up!
Tyson DeWees is director of fitness at Body & Seoul Martial Arts and Fitness Center (www.seoulmartialarts.com). He can be reached at email@example.com. — Ed.