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Warning Signs You're Becoming Obese, Experts Say

Your body may be telling you it’s time to lose weight.

Gaining weight can be a drag, but it can also have serious implications on your overall health. "Obesity affects more than 40% of Americans, and while common, it is related to some serious and preventable conditions including fatty liver disease, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer," Albert Do, MD, MPH, clinical director of the Fatty Liver Disease Program at Yale Medicine, tells Eat This, Not That! Health. A not so fun fact? He reveals there are over 200 reported complications thought to be related to obesity and excess weight. "If you suspect you're gaining weight and your body is sending you any of these signals below, now's a good time to see a physician to discuss how you can lose weight and take better care of your health." Here are 13 signs you are becoming obese. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.


Your Clothes Are Feeling Tighter

Obese man wearing tight red shirt, oversize clothing problem, insecurities

One of the more obvious signs of obesity? Your clothes don't fit anymore. "Clothes feeling tighter is an indication of weight gain," Dr. Do points out. "It's often the first sign and can be a good warning that adjusting your caloric intake and increasing physical activity would be helpful to stave off further weight gain." He adds that, in particular, gaining weight in your abdomen (central or visceral fat) leads to higher risk of metabolic diseases and cardiovascular disease than fat which is more peripheral, like in the thighs and but.

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Your Blood Pressure Is Increasing

Nurse taking the blood pressure of elderly man

"When there's more of you, your heart has to pump harder to get the blood everywhere it needs to go. So blood pressure goes up," says Dr. Elizabeth Klodas, MD, practicing cardiologist and founder of Step One Foods. "Hormonal changes associated with obesity can also lead to higher blood pressure readings."

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Your Blood Sugar Levels Are Rising

Doctor checking blood sugar level with glucometer. Treatment of diabetes concept.

Dr. Klodas also points out that adiposity makes your body insulin resistant, "meaning you need more and more insulin to store sugar," she says. "Eventually you exhaust that compensatory capacity and blood sugar levels start to rise."

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Your Cholesterol Profile Is Deteriorating

high cholesterol

Cholesterol can be a good measure of your overall health. If your HDL (good) cholesterol is decreasing, triglycerides increasing (sometimes massively), and LDL (bad) cholesterol rising) it can be a sign you are becoming obese. "Insulin is a storage hormone and puts your body in storage mode. Storage form of cholesterol – LDL – goes up. Elimination form of cholesterol – HDL – goes down. Concentrated storage form of sugar – TGs- go up," Dr. Koldas says.  

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You're Snoring More

Man sleeping in his bed and snoring loudly

If your significant other is complaining that your snores are keeping them up at night, it might be related to your weight. "New snoring or daytime fatigue suggesting sleep apnea which can be associated with weight gain," says Dr. Do. 

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You're Short of Breath

Woman suffering respiration problems sitting on a couch in the living room at home

Do normal daily activities seem to leave you breathless? "Having to move more mass around can tax your cardiovascular system and make you more winded with activities," Dr. Klodas points out. 

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You're Getting Achy

Thigh pain or muscle twitching or muscle cramp.

If you are feeling unusually achy lately, it can be due to increased inflammation as a result of weight gain. "Adiposity is pro-inflammatory, as are many of the foods that contribute to weight gain," says Dr. Klodas. "Inflammation can lead to aches and pains." 

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Your Joints Are Getting Sore

senior woman holding wrist with joint pain poor bone health

If your joints—especially your knees—are feeling more sore than usual, it could be due to the extra weight you are carrying, says Dr. Klodas. 

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You Are Getting Injured More Often

Male runner touching cramped calf at morning jogging.

Overtime, people may experience injury to joints supporting excess weight, Dr. Do points out. "In many cases as one ages, one may need joint replacement surgery due to "wear and tear" arthritis (osteoarthritis), particularly of the knees and hip."

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You're Developing Stretch Marks

Woman shows stretch marks on her stomach.

Stretch marks are a sign your skin is expanding. If you notice that they are developing, it could be due to weight gain. 

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Your Skin Is Becoming Rougher and Dryer

woman touching skin in bathroom

Obesity can manifest itself in your skin. If yours is becoming rougher and dryer in general, it could be a sign of excess weight, which "is associated with changes in skin texture," Dr. Klodas says. "Dry, rough skin is common in obese individuals."

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You Are Feeling Fatigued

Portrait of young man felling depressed and desperate crying alone in sofa home suffering emotional pain and unhappiness

Dr. Do also points out that feeling more fatigued than usual—especially with exertion—can be an early indicator of obesity. 

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Get a Physical

Portrait of asian woman doctor wear protection face mask showing a patient some information on digital tablet clip board, patient listen to specialist doctor in clinic office

The best way to determine whether you are obese is by getting a physical—including blood work—suggests Dr. Do. "Labs suggesting development of metabolic diseases, sugars (ha1c), cholesterol trending upwards, liver tests (suggesting fatty liver disease) increasing are all indicators of obesity," he explains. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more about Leah
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