List of Co-Morbidities Associated with Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome

Obesity is a top contributor to a variety of co-morbid conditions and complications which can affect all systems of the body from head to toe. Being overweight or suffering from obesity has been known to contribute to a wide range of different health conditions, and many of these co-morbidities are also associated with these syndromes listed below:

Metabolic Syndrome

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information and the US National Library of Medicine, 30.2% of individuals in a study on metabolic syndrome were also found to have a variety of additional health conditions and health risks as compared to individuals without metabolic syndrome. The most prevalent of these was diabetes, which presented in 9.4% of patients with metabolic syndrome versus only 1.4% of patients without metabolic syndrome.

There are also a number of co-morbidities which exist between the two conditions, meaning that the patient has both obesity and metabolic syndrome in addition to these co-occurring conditions. Some of the most common co-morbidities include hypertension, glucose intolerance and dyslipidemia.

Obesity and Co-Morbid Conditions

  • Insulin Resistance Syndrome: Also referred to as Syndrome X, which is a coronary heart disease with type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance syndrome has to do with a reduction on how insulin works on muscle and liver cells, causing an elevation of the glucose in the blood, increasing pancreatic insulin output.
  • Diabetes: Obesity is actually the most reliable predictor for the development of type 2 diabetes, especially due to excess abdominal weight.
  • Hypertension: Hypertension is high blood pressure, which is one of the more common complications associated with obesity.
  • Hypercholesterolemia: This is marked by elevated cholesterol levels, and is often caused by obesity which leads to long-term elevation of triglycerides and total cholesterol levels.
  • Low-Grade Inflammation: Obesity has caused systematic inflammation in obese patients, especially around excess adipose tissue.
  • Cardiovascular Disease: Obesity has become a significant predictor for heart attack and stroke, which can result from many of its co-morbidities including diabetes, elevated cholesterol and hypertension.
  • Gallbladder Disease: Excess cholesterol production can increase the incidence of gallstones both in women and men. One in four individuals who is obese will develop gallstones in their lifetime.
  • Liver Disease: Obesity is a common risk factor for liver disease, especially fatty liver or non-alcohol steatohepatitis or NASH. 80% of all individuals who were obese in one study also had fatty liver.
  • Cancer: Some types of cancers are more prevalent in individuals who are obese. According to the World Health Organization, as many as between ¼ and 1/3 of all cancer cases worldwide can be attributable to physical inactivity and excess weight gain.
  • Reproductive System Disorders (Women): Obesity can contribute to decreased fertility along with other complications such as menstrual irregularity, pregnancy complications and inconsistency in ovulation.
  • Asthma: Increased asthma incidence and childhood obesity share a link according to a study performed in 1999 using NHANES II data. The data suggested that there was a 77% increase in the likelihood of asthma symptoms in the heaviest children in the study.
  • Osteoarthritis: Because osteoarthritis is commonly found in the joints of the lower body, researchers are beginning to notice a link between some forms of osteoarthritis and obesity.
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea: As many as between 60% and 70% of individuals who are suffering from OSA or Obstructive Sleep Apnea are also overweight or obese.
  • Pseudotumor Cerebri: Also known as idiopathic intracranial hypertension, this is a condition that involves elevation in cerebrospinal fluid pressure without there being an apparent cause such as a tumor in the brain. This condition can lead to blindness and other issues if left untreated.