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Why Is Obesity Dangerous for Women?

By Isaac Ben-Or, M.D., Attending Physician at 75th St. & 126th St. Medical, Ocean Pines Medical & Doctors Weight Control & Wellness centers, Ocean City, MD.

Obesity is a medical danger to both women and men. However, women experience more health risks than men. These risks not only augment health issues but also seriously affect quality of life.

It is quite known that obesity is associated with health problems such as heart, diabetes and cancer. However I have found that obese people, especially women are unhappy with their looks. It causes depression and feelings of guilt and low self-esteem.

Women, more so than men, develop psychological problems when it comes to body weight and image. It starts at a young age when teenage girls develop eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, which is when one deprives her/himself from food. There is also bulimia, which is when the person eats regularly or overeats, and immediately induces vomiting. These eating problems are much more common in females than in males. Why? One explanation is that women are expected to look lean and fit, while men are forgiven for a bulging stomach. Some men are even proud of their "beer belly."

The slim girl has more chances to become a cheerleader in her school. The self-criticism and criticism from one's peers can cause an overweight girl to avoid group physical activity. Not too many girls can stand being mocked for their looks and their sport performance. This extends into social activity as well. The result is isolation and mountains of psychological problems that may become psychiatric disorders now or in the future.

Since a fat layer helps in producing hormones, excess fat contributes to a higher level of estrogen. High levels of this feminine hormone may cause young females to stop growing prematurely. They also experience large breasts, abnormal bleeding, and skin problems. Since the estrogen hormone stimulates tissue growth in the breast and the uterus, obese women have a greater risk to develop uterine and breast cancer.

The obese young woman has more difficulties in becoming pregnant. Once she becomes pregnant, her pregnancy is more problematic: She has a greater chance of developing diabetes of pregnancy as well as elevated blood pressure. She has more problems with walking and back pain. The delivery itself is more difficult and has a greater chance to cause damage to the baby and the mother. This type of a patient has a higher chance of arriving to the operating room for a cesarean section.

Obese patients have a much higher risk of excessive bleeding during surgery. The surgery itself is harder and takes longer. Following the operation, these patients take longer to heal and have more risk for infections and other complications.

You don't have to be a doctor to in order to understand that obesity is a bad health issue. No one wants to be overweight or obese. Some of the readers may be even angry with me for reminding them of this undesired condition.

However, obesity is a disease like asthma or high blood pressure. These disorders can be treated with the aid of a physician.

There are a lot of options in solving this problem. In the next article, I shall discuss them. So, cheer up, there is a hope; you will find that it is not easy, but much easier than what you imagine.

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