Risks of obesity

Obesity has serious health risks

The longer you live with obesity, the greater the negative effect on your general health and wellbeing.6,18
Your physical health, mental health, quality of life and social wellbeing can be affected.15

Read below to get to know more about the risks of uncontrolled obesity.



Physical Illness

Obesity negatively affects your physical health. The risk of death amongst people with BMI 35+ from any cause is in proportion to:

  • the degree of obesity19
  • later age at first diagnosis and the presence of hypertension19
  • type 2 diabetes and obstructive sleep apnoea19








    obese woman sitting alone
    obese man in his phychological illness dilemma


    Psychological Illness

    Obesity can have a negative impact on your psychological well-being.  Increased rates of depression or anxiety mostly arise from the stigma surrounding this disease.14,20,21

    Feelings of shame, guilt, rejection and low self-esteem are common in people with obesity.22

    This can lead people with obesity using food as a coping mechanism – also known as emotional (rather than hungry) eating.22

    The result can be a downward emotional spiral that exacerbates weight gain or negatively impacts attempts to lose weight or maintain weight loss.23



    Reduced quality of life

    Your ability to exercise, or be active when at home or work can be affected.22

    The stigma experienced by people with obesity has broad impacts on mental health and therefore on quality of life.22,23

    obese couple walking
    obese woman at home alone

    Negative impact on social wellbeing

    The stigma around obesity can reinforce increased obesity over time.23

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    6. Action to prevent obesity and reduce its impact across the life course – Evidence Review. 2018. Available at https://www.racp.edu.au/docs/default-source/advocacy-library/racp-obesity-position-statement.pdf. Accessed December 2019

    14. Bray G, et al. The Science of Obesity Management: An Endocrine Society Scientific Statement. Obesity Rev. 2018; 39; 79-132

    15. RACGP.Obesity prevention and management position statement 2019. Available at https://www.racgp.org.au/FSDEDEV/media/documents/RACGP/Position%20statements/Obesity-prevention-and-management.pdf, accessed September 2019.

    17. Impact of overweight and obesity as a risk factor for chronic conditions Australian Burden of Disease Study

    18. Obesity: Risk factors, complications, and strategies for sustainable long‐term weight management

    19. Moussa A, et al. Mortality of the Severely Obese. Ann Surg 2019; 269: 1087–91.

    20. Jung F and Luck-Sikorski C, Overweight and Lonely? A Representative Study on Loneliness in Obese People and Its Determinants. Obes Facts (2019) 12:440–447.

    21. Ul-haq Z, et al. Meta-Analysis of the Association Between Body Mass Index and Health-Related Quality of Life Among Adults, Assessed by the SF-36. Obesity 2013; 21(3): e322–7.

    22. Tomiyama A. Weight stigma is stressful. A review of evidence for the Cyclic Obesity/Weight-Based Stigma model, Appetite 82 (2014) 8–15

    23. Puhl R, et al.  Overcoming Weight Bias in the Management of Patients With Diabetes and Obesity.Clin Diabetes 2016; 34(1): 44–50