The Collison Newsletter September 2015


            HEALTH  RISKS  associated  with  OBESITY*   


Body Mass Index (BMI) is the weight in kilograms, divided by the height in metres squared:

·         Normal weightBMI 20-25
·         OverweightBMI 25-30
·         ObesityBMI 30-40
·         Pathological obesityBMI 40 or greater
·         Under weightBMI less than 20

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (, in their article Overweight and Obesity (Profiles of Health, Australia, 2011-12), states:

"Being overweight or obese increases a person's risk of developing long-term health conditions including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes." 

In Australia in 2011-12:


62.8% of adults, aged 18 years and over, were overweight or obese, comprised of 35.3% overweight and 27.5% obese. A further 35.5% were of normal weight, and 1.7% were underweight.


Overweight and obesity varied with age, with 74.9% of people aged 65-74 being overweight or obese, compared to 36.4% of people aged 18-24 years.


More males were overweight or obese than females, 69.7% compared to 55.7%. For obesity only, the rates were the same, 27.5% for both males and females.


In Australia, obesity is on the increase:


Health Risks associated with Obesity 

The United States Surgeon General's Call To Action To Prevent and Reverse Overweight and Obesity is a 38-page document (see It recognises that there is an epidemic of overweight and obesity, and that it is essential that this problem be addressed.


What are the health risks associated with obesity? The following has been extracted from the ‘Call To Action’ of the Surgeon General:


A BMI of 30 or greater has a 50-100% increased risk of premature death from all causes when compared to individuals with BMI 20-25.


Overweight and obesity are associated with an increased risk for coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, endometrial cancer, post-menopausal breast and other cancers and certain musculo-skeletal disorders such as osteoarthritis.


Both modest and large weight increases are associated with significantly increased risk of disease. For example:

  • A weight gain of 11-18 lb (5-8kg) increases a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes to twice that of individuals who have not gained weight, while those who have gained 44 lb (20kg) or more have four times the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • An increase of 10-20 lb (4.5-9kg) increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 1.25 for females and 1.6 for males.
  • An increase of 22 lb (10kg) for males and an increase of 44 lb (20kg) for females increase the risk of coronary heart disease by 1.75 and 2.65 respectively.

In females, BMI of 34 or greater increases the risk of endometrial cancer by more than 6 times.


Overweight and obesity exacerbates many chronic diseases, eg hypertension and elevated blood cholesterol.


Overweight and obese individuals may suffer from social stigmatisation, discrimination and poor body image.


The following is the conclusion of this section of the ‘Call To Action’:

"These data on the morbidity and mortality associated with overweight and obesity demonstrate the importance of the prevention of weight gain, as well as the role of obesity treatment, in maintaining and improving health and quality of life."


Obesity is associated with an increased risk of:

  • Premature death 
  • Type 2 diabetes 
  • Heart disease 
  • Stroke 
  • Hypertension 
  • Gall bladder disease 
  • Osteoarthritis 
  • Sleep apnoea 
  • Asthma 
  • Breathing problems 
  • Endometrial cancer 
  • Colon cancer 
  • Kidney cancer 
  • Gall bladder cancer 
  • Post menopausal breast cancer 
  • High blood cholesterol 
  • Complications of pregnancy 
  • Menstrual irregularities 
  • Hirsutism (presence of excess body and facial hair) 
  • Stress incontinence (urine leakage) 
  • Increased surgical risk 
  • Psychological disorders, such as depression 
  • Psychological difficulties due to social stigmatisation.

There are other ramifications of obesity listed by different authors, including polycystic ovarian syndrome, lymph oedema, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, erectile dysfunction and gastric reflux.


Your weight reflects your lifestyle choices.

Simply eating fewer calories and exercising more usually does not work very well. Not all calories are the same – as discussed in my August 2014 newsletter When is a Calorie not a Calorie? Rather than focussing on calories, you need to address the quality of the food you eat, and the nutritional content. A guide to a healthy diet is set out in my March 2009 newsletter Foods for Health.



*Copyright 2015: The Huntly Centre. 

Disclaimer: All material in the website is provided for informational or educational purposes only. Consult a health professional regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations expressed herein, with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.

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