According to a recent poll, many people don’t understand what being overweight does to your body. Instead, they think it’s possible for someone to be very overweight and still healthy.
However, according to the survey, which was conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, being too heavy may lead to or worsen heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, some types of cancer, arthritis, respiratory problems (such as sleep apnea and asthma), and even infertility.
Few Americans truly realize these links.
“People are often shocked to hear how far-reaching the effects of obesity are,” said Jennifer Dimitriou, a bariatric dietitian at New York’s Montefiore Medical Center.
Although doctors long have known that fat increases the risk of developing cancers of the colon, breast, prostate, and uterus, only 7 percent of Americans seemed to understand this. Also, being overweight can make it harder to spot tumors early and to treat them.
Likewise, few people know that obesity can contribute to arthritis, which can lead to joint pain, which can then make it harder to exercise and shed pounds.
Be Realistic About Your Weight
Knowing more about the myriad ways obesity affects health could help motivate people to get more active and eat better before full-blown disease strikes. However, only 52 percent of those surveyed said they’ve discussed the health risks of being overweight with a doctor.
In another complication, the AP-NORC Center survey found that about half of people think their weight is just about right, and only 12 percent of parents think their child is overweight. That’s even though government figures show two-thirds of U.S. adults, and one-third of children and teens, are either overweight or obese.
If you’re surrounded by overweight people, especially in your family, “then that’s all you know, and that to you is normal,” Dimitriou said.
The AP-NORC Center survey was conducted Nov. 21 through Dec. 14. It involved landline and cellphone interviews with 1,011 adults nationwide and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.