Health Effects of Obesity

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An estimated 97 million adults in the United States are overweight or obese, a condition that raises the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions.1 To learn more about the health effects of obesity read below.

How is Obesity Defined?

Obesity is defined as weight that is higher than what is considered as a healthy weight for a given height.5 Obesity is now considered a chronic condition and puts people at risk for other chronic conditions.2 According to the CDC, medical costs for people with obesity are $1,429 higher than those that are not obese.3

The Health Effects of Obesity4

Obesity has an affect on so many parts of the body. People who have obesity are at an increased risk for serious diseases and health conditions such as:

  1. Nervous system: Being overweight greatly increases the risk of stroke and can also affect your mental health.
  2. Respiratory system: Breathing can become increasingly more difficult when fat is stored around the neck, making the airway too small. As a result, sleep apnea occurs. This is a sleep disorder where breathing may stop for short periods of time.
  3. Digestive system: Obesity increases the risk of developing gallstones, or gastroesophageal reflux disease. Additionally, fat can build up around the liver and cause damage, scar tissue and even liver failure.
  4. Cardiovascular and endocrine system: The heart must pump harder for people that have obesity. This can lead to high blood pressure, the leading cause of stroke. Furthermore, obesity can make the body’s cells resistant to insulin. This increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  5. Skeletal and muscular systems: Obesity can cause deteriorating bone density and muscle mass. It can also put pressure on joints making them still and painful.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Body Mass Index (BMI) is used as a screening tool for obesity. BMI is a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. A higher BMI can be an indicator of high body fatness.5 To calculate your BMI, visit: Adult BMI Calculator | Healthy Weight, Nutrition, and Physical Activity | CDC

Obesity is subdivided into categories:5

  • Class 1: BMI of 30 to < 35
  • Class 2: BMI of 35 to <40
  • Class 3: BMI of 40 or higher. This class is sometimes categorized as “severe” obesity.

How to Combat Obesity

  1. There are prescription medications for obesity. Make sure that you have at least a 30-day supply of your medications and are taking them as prescribed.6
  2. Eating a healthy diet can help support immune function. A healthy diet prevents and aids in managing other chronic conditions like diabetes.7
  3. Physical activity also supports immune function and helps with weight loss.7
  4. Getting enough sleep is crucial as insufficient sleep has been linked to other chronic conditions and obesity.7
  5. Coping with stress over time can lower BMI.7

Tria Health Can Help

For select groups, Tria Health offers a weight management service called Choose to Lose. If this structured weight loss program is included through your benefits plan, you can receive help from a combination of registered dietitians, health coaches and pharmacists, along the best-in-class nutrition tracker app ‘LoseIt!’ and a Bluetooth scale. This program is great at helping tackle the risks associated with obesity.

Tria Health is a no cost benefit available through select members’ health plans. Tria Health’s Pharmacy Advocate Program offers one-on-one, private consultations with a Tria Health Pharmacist. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins and supplements. Tria Health will assist you in identifying any possible drug interactions or savings opportunities! Your pharmacist will work with you and your doctor(s) to ensure the intended outcomes from your medications are being received.

Questions?

Contact the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. ob_gdlns.pdf (nih.gov)
  2. Obesity Is Now Considered a Disease – Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic
  3. Adult Obesity Facts | Overweight & Obesity | CDC
  4. The Effects of Obesity on Your Body (healthline.com)
  5. Defining Adult Overweight and Obesity | Overweight & Obesity | CDC
  6. Certain Medical Conditions and Risk for Severe COVID-19 Illness | CDC
  7. Obesity, Race/Ethnicity, and COVID-19 | Overweight & Obesity | CDC

Obesity Worsens Outcomes from COVID-19

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Nearly 40% of people who make a New Year’s resolution say they plan to lose weight.1 However, the pandemic is making it more difficult for Americans to keep weight off. Obesity rates are on the rise in the United States. This is concerning as people with obesity have died of COVID-19 at excessive rates.1

Obesity

A body mass index (BMI) between 30 kg/m2 and <40 kg/m2 or severe obesity (BMI of 40 kg/m2 or above), increases your risk of severe illness from COVID-19.6 Obesity is now considered a chronic condition and puts people at risk for other chronic conditions.5 According to the CDC, medical costs for obese people are $1,429 higher than those that are not obese.3

Vaccinations and Obesity

Vaccines that protect against seasonal flu, hepatitis B and rabis are less effective in obese populations compared to leaner ones.1 Researchers have found that having obesity increases one’s likelihood of hospitalization for COVID-19 by 113%.2

Facts About Obesity and COVID-19:

  1. Having obesity may triple the risk of hospitalizations due to a COVID-19 infection.7
  2. Obesity is linked to impaired immune function.7
  3. The risk of death from COVID-19 increases as BMI increases.7
  4. Obesity decreases lung capacity which can make ventilation more difficult.7

Actions to Take to Combat Obesity

  1. There are prescription medications for obesity. Make sure that you have at least a 30-day supply of your medications and are taking them as prescribed.4
  2. Eating a healthy diet can help support immune function. A healthy diet prevents and aids in managing other chronic conditions like diabetes, which also increases your risk of severe illness from COVID-19.7
  3. Physical activity also supports immune function and helps with weight loss. Being active can help decrease a person’s chance of having severe illness from COVID-19.7
  4. Getting enough sleep is crucial as insufficient sleep has been linked to other chronic conditions and obesity.7
  5. Coping with stress over time can lower BMI.7

Tria Health Can Help

Tria Health offers a weight management service called Choose To Lose. If this structured weight loss program is included through your benefits plan, you can receive help from a combination of registered dietitians, health coaches and pharmacists, along the best-in-class nutrition tracker app ‘LoseIt!’ and a Bluetooth scale. This program is great at helping tackle the risks associated with obesity.

Tria Health is a no cost benefit available through select members’ health plans. Tria Health’s Pharmacy Advocate Program offers one-on-one, private consultations with a Tria Health Pharmacist. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins and supplements. Tria Health will assist you in identifying any possible drug interactions or savings opportunities! Your pharmacist will work with you and your doctor(s) to ensure the intended outcomes from your medications are being received.

Questions?

Contact the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. The Health 202: Obese Americans suffer disproportionately from the coronavirus – The Washington Post
  2. Why COVID-19 is more deadly in people with obesity—even if they’re young | Science | AAAS (sciencemag.org)
  3. Adult Obesity Facts | Overweight & Obesity | CDC
  4. Certain Medical Conditions and Risk for Severe COVID-19 Illness | CDC
  5. Obesity Is Now Considered a Disease – Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic
  6. Certain Medical Conditions and Risk for Severe COVID-19 Illness | CDC
  7. Obesity, Race/Ethnicity, and COVID-19 | Overweight & Obesity | CDC