Weight: Why is it even important?

Carrying too much weight for your height can be a sign of metabolic syndrome, which is a disease process initiated by liver damage from excess sugar intake. The liver becomes stuffed with triglyceride fats (“fatty liver”) which leads to scarring and dysfunction of the liver, insulin resistance, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. In simple terms, when you eat sugar, it stuffs your liver with fat, leading to diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol in your arteries, which then leads to strokes and heart attacks.

So if being overweight is just a “sign" of metabolic syndrome and not the cause, why do we try so hard to lose weight? It’s likely that you could reverse some of the damage caused by eating sugar, if you just stopped eating it. Depending on how much damage was already done, you might be able to completely prevent the progression of metabolic syndrome to diabetes and heart disease. It’s never too late to quit sugar, similar to the case of smoking leading to lung damage. It’s never too late to quit smoking, and you might be able to reduce the chance of lung cancer after quitting for 5 years, but the damage to the lungs (emphysema) can still lead to a premature death.

So let’s say you do quit sugar, and reduce your chances of getting metabolic syndrome. Will this make you lose weight? Maybe, but there are several other factors that determine your weight, such as caloric intake and exercise. It’s not that hard to quit sugar: there are many sugar-free alternatives available for your food choices, so you could still eat enough to continue gaining weight if you choose to. The hard part comes in choosing NOT to gain more weight, and especially in choosing to lose weight down to a healthy level.

Even if you are sugar free, and virtually eliminated the progression of metabolic syndrome, there are several other reasons for trying achieve a “healthy weight”. Here is a partial list of the problems that can be eliminated or reduced by maintaining a healthy weight.

* Overweight increases your chance of getting asthma, and of having asthma attacks if you already have asthma.

* Overweight physically strains your body from carrying the extra weight all day long, and leads to deterioration of the spine, hips, knees, ankles, and feet. Everybody gets some degerative arthritis in these joints as we age, but extra weight speeds up the process at a much earlier age.

* Overweight people are much more likely to get stomach and intestinal diseases, such as GERD (“acid reflux”), stomach and intestinal cancer, liver cancer, and other problems.

* Skin problems such as abscesses are much more common in overweight people.

* Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea are far more common in overweight people, because the extra fat impinges on the airway causing snoring and blockage of the airway.

* Psychiatric disorders are more common in overweight people, possibly due to social bias against them, which is a problem in itself. It can adversely affect your social relationships, job chances, or even dating and marriage. These biases are unfair, of course, but they do exist. 

© Rick Voakes 1999, Health-bytes LOGO  by Rie Cramer