Obesity carries many health risks, and the larger you get, the greater the risks become. As a personal trainer who has been training obese clients in London for over 11 years, I know from experience how vital it is for someone who is obese to lose that excess fat and achieve a healthy weight.
1. Heart disease
If you’re obese, you have a greater risk of suffering heart disease. The most dangerous fat is visceral fat, found inside the abdominal wall and wrapped around your vital organs such as liver and kidneys. This fat secretes toxins which poison your heart muscle and arteries, and contributes to heart disease.
The good news is that it’s reversible. A sustained regime of exercise and improved eating habits will gradually reduce your visceral fat levels, until you’re out of the danger zone.
Obesity increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, one of the fastest growing diseases in the UK. Again, it’s the visceral fat around your organs which is the main culprit, as the toxins produced by this fat play havoc with your body’s ability to control your blood sugar levels. And uncontrolled blood sugar is diabetes. The problem with type 2 diabetes is that it has multiple knock-on health effects, such as low energy, poor wound healing, peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage in your feet and hands), and in extreme cases blindness and limb amputation.
3. Venous ulcers
Several years ago I had a personal training client in South Kensington who suffered from venous ulcers in the lower leg, just above the ankle area. Obese people are more susceptible to developing venous ulcers, because the extra body-weight causes high pressure in the leg veins, which in turn can lead to skin damage. Once the integrity of the skin is broken, ulceration can develop very quickly.
It’s a vicious circle, because it makes it more painful to walk and exercise generally, which means that the sufferer is likely to become even less active.
Venous ulcers are a painful and potentially dangerous condition if they’re not treated and managed carefully. Untreated ulcers can smell bad, and the open sore can rapidly grow in size as infection takes hold.
A common problem with obesity is impaired circulation in the lower legs, which makes it more difficult for the lymphatic system to fight infection and drain excess fluids away, and also makes it harder for the blood supply to bring nutrients to the infected area to promote healing and healthy cell production.
4. High blood pressure
Obesity increases your risk of hypertension (the fancy name for high blood pressure). The exact causal relationship between the two is the subject of much medical debate, but it’s clear that there is a close correlation between the two. What’s wrong with high blood pressure? It increases your risk of heart disease.
Another major cause of high blood pressure is excess salt in your diet, and it’s amazing how fast your blood pressure returns to a healthy range when you reduce the excess salt in your food. I had a personal training client in Wanstead, north east London, who had been eating salty crisps every day, and his blood pressure was sky-high. I advised him to stop eating crisps altogether, and snack on unsalted nuts & raisins instead. Within a month, his blood pressure was down to safe levels.
If you know anyone in London who is obese, encourage them to read this blog post as a cautionary tale of what can happen if your weight increases to dangerous levels.
Dominic Londesborough is a personal trainer in London with over 11 years experience.