8 Surprising Effects of Obesity

The effects of obesity go beyond dress size and cardiovascular risks.

ByABC News
September 14, 2013, 2:19 AM

Sept. 14, 2013— -- intro: More than 36 percent of Americans are now considered obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An additional 34 percent are considered overweight.

These statistics are quoted so often that many people may no longer find them surprising. Yet what may still be surprising is how far the effects of obesity reach beyond clothing size and cardiovascular risks. In addition to health, it can also impact other aspects of your life, including family relationships and income.

Read on to learn about seven ways carrying those extra pounds may be influencing the way you live.

quicklist: 1category: 8 Surprising Effects of Obesitytitle: More Migrainesurl:text: A new study published in the journal Neurology revealed what a real headache carrying extra weight can be. Johns Hopkins researchers surveyed nearly 4,000 people to find that the higher their body mass index, the greater their chances were of having episodic migraines. Those who were obese were 81 percent more likely to experience at least 14 migraine headaches each month compared to people who were a healthy weight. Obese women over the age of 50 suffered from chronic headaches the most.

quicklist: 2category: 8 Surprising Effects of Obesitytitle: More Cancerurl:text: The National Cancer Institute associates 34,000 new cases of cancer in men and 50,000 in women each year with obesity.

Right now the link between excess weight and cancer is purely circumstantial and not necessarily cause-and-effect, but experts have floated some theories as to why more body fat tracks with higher rates of cancer.

"It could be that excess fat cells increase hormonal activity or they increase growth factors that lead to tumor growth," said Dr. Raul Seballos, vice chairman of preventive medicine at the Cleveland Clinic.

Obese people are at higher risk for all cancers, Seballos said. They are often diagnosed in later stages of cancer than thinner people and are more likely to die from the disease. Some emerging data looking at weight-loss surgery patients suggests that some of this risk can be diminished by losing weight.

quicklist: 3Category: 8 Surprising Effects of ObesityTitle: Infertility Increasesurl:text: Overweight women have a harder time getting pregnant. One Indian study of 300 morbidly obese women found that over 90 percent of them developed polycystic ovarian disease, a condition associated with infertility, over a three-year period.

As with cancer, the association between obesity and infertility isn't entirely clear.

"Obesity is an inflammatory state and that alone might decrease fertility," noted Dr. Marc Bessler, director of the Center for Weight Loss and Metabolic Surgery at New York Presbyterian Hospital at Columbia University Medical Center. "It may also be the result of hormone changes produced by the fatty tissue."

Bessler said that many of his heavier patients experienced difficulty getting pregnant. And many infertility clinics don't accept female patients with high body mass indexes given their diminished chances of conceiving. However, Bessler said some of his patients become pregnant just months after weight-loss surgery once they had dropped a few pounds.