People who carry around unhealthy amounts of weight don’t just have heart disease and diabetes to worry about. Obesity is implicated in two thirds of the leading causes of death from non-communicable diseases worldwide and the risk of certain diseases differs for men and women. Cecilia Lindgren of the University of Oxford and colleagues report these findings in a new study published 24th October in PLOS Genetics.
As rates of obesity continue to grow worldwide, scientists have begun to suspect that excess weight might lead to or exacerbate other causes of death besides heart disease and type 2 diabetes. To identify additional causes of death made worse by obesity, researchers performed an analysis that explores cause-and-effect relationships using genetic data and three measures of obesity from 228,466 women and 195,041 men in the UK Biobank. Their analysis showed that obesity contributes to a laundry list of health problems including coronary artery disease, type 1 and 2 diabetes, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, chronic liver disease and kidney failure. While obesity causes type 2 diabetes in both women and men, women experienced a higher risk of type 2 diabetes as compared to men, while men faced a greater risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and chronic kidney disease.