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Signs You Have "Too Much Fat," Say Experts

Doctors weigh in on obesity.

Obesity is a problem in the U.S. that continues to grow. While there's no definite answer as to why we have a chronic weight problem, obesity can cause significant health problems such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 42.4 percent of adult Americans are obese. "From 1999 –2000 through 2017 –2018, US obesity prevalence increased from 30.5% to 42.4%. During the same time, the prevalence of severe obesity increased from 4.7% to 9.2%."  Eat This, Not That! Health talked to medical experts who share their insights on obesity and signs that you're overweight. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


What is Considered Obese?

Doctor holding a tape measure in her hands which shows 40 inches as abdominal circumference.

Dr. Mir Ali, MD, bariatric surgeon and medical director of MemorialCare Surgical Weight Loss Center at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, CA explains, "What we look at to determine if somebody is obese, is the Body Mass Index; normal range for BMI is 18 to 25; if somebody has a BMI over 30, that is considered obese and they are at risk for developing health problems due to their weight. 

Some of the symptoms patient may experience are:

  • Increased sweating especially with activity
  • tiredness/lack of energy
  • joint and back pain
  • difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
  • sleep problems, including increased snoring
  • difficulty with physical activity
  • symptoms of diabetes which may include increased eating and urination
  • symptoms of high blood pressure which may include headaches

If a patient has any of the above symptoms or has a BMI approaching 30, then they should seek lifestyle changes or medical help with their weight."


Stretch Marks

Woman shows stretch marks on her stomach.

Dr. Shadi Vahdat, MD, assistant clinical professor and hospital physician at UCLA and medical director at LiveWell Integrative Medicine. states: "Stretch marks that commonly develop on the abdomen, breasts, buttocks or thighs are a common occurrence with sudden and rapid weight gain . During pregnancy this skin sign is quite normal and common but in its absence may be a sign that you are too overweight. While some people have a greater family history for this condition, the mechanical stress on the skin and hormonal factors are thought to be some of the reasons why it develops in the first place. While this condition is usually harmless and non life threatening, there are rare cases where there are additional systemic signs or symptoms that may require a visit with the doctor to rule out an underlying serious medical condition." 

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Woman removing adhesive plaster from the wound after blood test injection

"Having a rash in skin folds and creases such as the armpits and groin or any other place where two skin surfaces come into contact can be a sign of being too overweight," Dr. Vahdat explains.  "While the appearance of the rash and list of reasons for it can be broad and include a lot of genetic, inflammatory, infectious and other conditions it is always best to see your dermatologists for further evaluation. Treatment may involve anything from topical treatments to a more systemic approach if related to an underlying medical condition."



Tired woman snoring loudly in the bed

Dr. Vahdat says, "If people are always commenting about your loud snoring, gasping or worse yet having brief episodes where you stop breathing during your sleep there is a good chance you may be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea; a potentially dangerous sleep disorder that occurs from the throat muscles relaxing and obstructing the airway. Unfortunately the risk of this condition increases six fold for every 10% increase in weight and if untreated can result in a higher risk for heart disease, memory loss, daytime fatigue, and type 2 diabetes."

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Acid Reflux

Woman experiencing heart burn and acid reflux from gastroesophageal disease

Christina Mamada MSc Nutrition, BSc Biology, and Nutrition Associate at Vitl states, "Recurring gastroesophageal reflux (acid reflux), may be an indicator of increased abdominal weight, that structurally pushes the stomach and its content towards the esophagus. Of course, there are a number of other causes of acid reflux, so if you are suffering from those, please talk to your doctor or healthcare professional to help you identify the exact cause."


Excess Weight Around the Waist and Belly

A woman squeeze her tummy

According to Mamada, "Having some amount of fat throughout our body is absolutely normal and necessary, as fat provides us with essential fatty acids that the body cannot produce on its own. It also helps us absorb and store fat soluble vitamins like A, K, E and D. However, there is a big difference between our fat on our thighs, legs and arms with that around our belly. Excess abdominal fat (at our waist area), can be an indicator of increased visceral fat, which is the fat that is deposited around vital organs, like our heart, pancreas and liver. Increased deposition of fat tissue around these organs, increases the risk of developing metabolic disease, heart disease, diabetes, hypertriglyceridemia and many other severe health conditions. Although a scale can be a good indicator to check your entire's body weight, it is your waist circumference that is positively correlated with your visceral fat, and therefore, can provide insights of the risk of developing certain cardiometabolic diseases. The cut offs of a healthy waist circumference and the risk for metabolic disease, varies with age, sex, and lifestyle factors like diet, smoking and exercise, so make sure to have an expert or medical health professional examine you before jumping into any conclusion."  

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Sweating More Than Usual

Close-up Of A Woman With Hyperhidrosis Sweating Very Badly Under Armpit

"Sweating from walking up a flight of stairs is not normal. Try exercising at least 15 minutes three times a week to see if this helps," says Dr. Pri Hennis, M.D. Family Physician | Functional Nutrition Coach. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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