Health Risk Explorer

Health Risk Explorer

Obesity has been linked to a number of serious illnesses. By clicking on each illness below you will be able to see how losing excess weight can help you to reduce the severity of many of these illnesses.

  • Asthma

    What is Asthma?

    Asthma is a disease affecting the lungs, which causes wheezing, breathlessness and nighttime or early morning coughing. In severe cases symptoms can be disabling.

    How obesity can affect Asthma

    There appears to be a relationship between obesity and asthma. People with asthma complain of more breathlessness and wheezing the higher their BMI. In addition, people who are overweight or obese are more likely to have asthma.

    How losing excess weight may improve Asthma symptoms

    The Gastric Banding Procedure to help lose excess weight may also deliver significant improvements in respiratory symptoms and reduce the use of relief medications as well as improve lung function amongst obese people with asthma. Studies report that losing weight using the Gastric Banding technique improved or eliminated Asthma symptoms and medication use in 57% to 100% of cases at 12-36 months after the procedure. In one study, additional improvements in severity, daily impact, hospitalisation, sleep and exercise were noted in all patients for at least 12 months after Gastric Banding.

  • Cardiovascular Disease

    What is Cardiovascular Disease?

    Cardiovascular conditions, including coronary heart disease, can lead to heart attack, angina (chest pains caused by lack of oxygen in the blood supplying the heart) and other serious heart conditions.

    How obesity can affect Cardiovascular Disease

    Obesity is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The main underlying problem of cardiovascular disease is atherosclerosis. This means that abnormal build-ups of fat and other substances occur in the inner lining of arteries. Atherosclerosis is most serious when it blocks the blood supply to the heart or to the brain. No doubt you’ve heard about cholesterol. Well, it’s a type of fat carried in the blood. The so-called ‘bad’ cholesterolis made up of medium size particles of cholesterol that can help contribute to atherosclerosis. The ‘good’ cholesterol is made up of small particles of cholesterol and can actually protect the heart.

    How losing excess weight may improve Cardiovascular Disease

    Weight loss resulting from the Gastric Banding Procedure may result in a substantial reduction in cardiovascular risks. Improvements may include decreased blood pressure, increases in the ‘good’ cholesterol and decreases in triglycerides (stored sources of energy found in ‘bad’ cholesterol).

  • Osteoarthritis and Degenerative Joint Disease

    What Is Osteoarthritis and Degenerative Joint Disease?

    The meeting place of two bones is a called a joint, which allows movement. Joints are wrapped in a tough capsule and the ends of the joints are covered by a material called cartilage. This forms a firm cushion that stops the bones from grating against each other. The capsule is filled with a fluid that lubricates the joint and keeps it moving smoothly. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage becomes brittle and breaks down. If some of the pieces break off altogether and float around in the fluid, inflammation can occur. Eventually, the cartilage is no longer able to cushion the bones that make up the joint. This is osteoarthritis (OA).

    How obesity can affect osteoarthritis and Degenerative Joint Disease

    Morbid obesity can lead to early degenerative arthritic changes in weight-bearing joints, especially the knees, hips and spine. Around 80% of patients with OA have some degree of movement limitation; 25% cannot perform the major activities of daily life; 11% need help with personal care and 14% require help with routine needs. Morbid obesity is a risk factor for developing complications following surgery for hip and thigh fractures that may require intra medullary nails (metal rods). Many orthopaedic surgeons refuse to insert hip or knee replacements in obese patients due to the risk of the prosthetic loosening.

    How losing excess weight may improve Osteoarthritis and Degenerative Joint Disease

    Studies have reported improvement in or elimination of arthritis or joint pain following weight loss surgery. One researcher found that 59% of Gastric Band patients who had been taking pain relief medication had either decreased or discontinued its use at 12 months after the procedure. Another study showed that major knee pain intensity had decreased at 3-8 years after the Gastric Banding Procedure.

  • Depression

    What is Depression?

    Everybody feels sad or moody occasionally but people with depression experience these feelings very deeply and for long periods and often without reason. Depression is more than just a low mood – it’s a serious illness. Depressed people find it difficult to function from day to day and may not want to participate in activities they used to enjoy.

    How obesity can affect Depression

    Depression related to obesity can create extra difficulties for the obese person as they may encounter social stigmatisation and discrimination in employment and educational settings as well as during everyday activities.

    How losing excess weight may improve Depression

    Individuals who achieve significant and sustained weight loss as a result of theGastric Banding Procedure may experience significant improvements in their depressive mood as well as reductions in the use of depression medications. In two studies of obese people following the Gastric Banding Procedure, researchers found that between 26% and 57% of patients with depression reported decreasing or discontinuing medication for the condition. In one study specifically, 74% of depressive patients reported that their condition had improved significantly following excess weight loss. In fact, their weight loss was directly correlated with their improved mood. Another study also reported significant improvement in mood following the procedure.

  • Dyslipidaemia

    What is Dyslipidaemia?

    Dyslipidaemia is a fancy way of saying a person has high cholesterol levels.Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) – the‘bad’ cholesterol – carry cholesterol in the bloodstream to the body while high-density lipoproteins (HDL) – the ‘good’ cholesterol – remove cholesterol from the body to the liver. Higher levels of HDL are considered good whereas high levels of total cholesterol (essentially the amount of ‘bad’ cholesterol balanced against the ‘good’) is a risk factor for heart disease and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

    How obesity can affect Dyslipidaemia

    Being overweight or obese increases total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein levels and decreases high-density lipoprotein levels. Cholesterol build up on artery walls can cause atherosclerosis and when the arteries that carry blood to the heart are affected then coronary artery disease or heart attack may result.

    How losing excess weight may improve Dyslipidaemia

    Significant, sustained weight loss resulting from the Gastric Banding Procedure has been found to be effective in dyslipidaemia. Essentially, research shows that dyslipidaemia significantly improved in 70% of patients following the procedure. One study reported significant decreases intriglycerides (a form of ‘bad’ cholesterol) following the Gastric Banding Procedure with a further study noting that 32% of patients were able to discontinue or decrease their cholesterol medication following the surgery.

  • Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD)

    What is Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD)?

    This disease is also known as GORD or acid reflux. The oesophagus is the long tube that food passes down to get to the stomach. GORD occurs when the lower oesophageal sphincter (i.e., the opening between the oesophagus and the stomach) does not close properly or opens spontaneously for varying periods of time, allowing stomach acid to rise up the oesophagus.

    How obesity can affect GORD?

    Obesity can contribute to GORD. In morbidly obese patients over the age of 35, tests demonstrate reduced oesophageal sphincter pressure, which is indicative of GORD.

    How losing excess weight may improve GORD

    Several studies have demonstrated that the significant, sustained weight loss following the Gastric Banding Procedure is effective in improving GORD. Three studies conducted with patients following the Gastric Banding Procedure showed that between 66% and 90% cases of GORD resolved or improved after the procedure.

  • Hypertension

    What is Hypertension?

    Blood pressure is the pressure of your blood in your arteries as the heart pumps it around your body. Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers, for example 120 over 80 (120/80). The higher number indicates the pressure in the arteries as the heart squeezes blood out during each beat. It is called the systolic blood pressure. The lower number indicates the pressure as the heart relaxes before the next beat. It is called the diastolic blood pressure. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is when your systolic blood pressure measures 140 or more and the diastolic measurement is 90 or more (i.e., 140/90).

    How obesity can affect Hypertension

    Obesity-related hypertension is caused by a complex mix of signals between the kidneys and the blood flow to and from the heart. High blood pressure puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke; however you may not even realise you have it until other health issues arise.

    How losing excess weight may improve Hypertension

    The significant sustained weight loss associated with the Gastric Band can improve hypertension and has been shown to decrease or eliminate blood pressure medication in 2/3 to 3/4 of patients with pre-surgical hypertension issues. A number of studies have reported a 48% to 79% resolution of hypertension at 1-5 years following the Gastric Banding Procedure. In one study of 147 patients, researchers reported a decrease in mean blood pressure from 156/97 to 127/76 at 12 months after the procedure. One 4 year study showed that the Gastric Banding Procedure actually prevented hypertension in these patients.

  • Infertility

    What is Infertility?

    Fertility issues include irregular or infrequent menstrual cycles, increased risk of infertility, increased risk of miscarriage, increased risk during infertility surgery and decreased success with fertility treatments.

    How obesity can affect Infertility

    Being overweight or obese affects fertility in women by causing an imbalance in normal hormone levels. Obesity can make men and women more susceptible to type 2 diabetes which is linked to a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome in women (producing hormonal imbalance and infertility) as well as low quality sperm in men. Complications in pregnant women who are obese can include hypertension, foetal death and pregnancy-related diabetes.

    How losing excess weight may improve infertility

    Weight loss after surgery can often result in normalisation of sex hormone levels, increased fertility and regular menstrual cycles. A study tracking patients with polycystic ovary syndrome for a median period of 13 months after the Gastric Banding Procedure found that the problems associated with the syndrome resolved or improved in 48% of patients. Children born to mothers who have lost weight through the Gastric Band are more likely to weigh less at birth and maintain a lower weight than their siblings born before weight loss surgery.

  • Lower Back Pain

    What is Lower Back Pain?

    The older you get, the more bone strength and muscle elasticity deteriorate. The discs in your back begin to lose fluid and become less flexible, which, in turn, decreases their ability to provide a cushion for your vertebrae (i.e., the bones that form the spinal column). Lower back pain can occur when you lift something too heavy or overstretch, causing a sprain, strain, or spasm in one of the muscles or ligaments in the back. If the spine becomes too strained or compressed, a disc may bulge or rupture, putting pressure on one or more of the nerves connected to the spinal cord. When the roots of these nerves in the spinal cord become compressed or irritated, back pain occurs.

    How obesity can affect Lower Back Pain

    Obese people have more pain and physical dysfunction than people of a more normal weight range. Excess weight can be associated with degenerative discs as well as recurrent or chronic lower back pain.

    How losing excess weight may improve Lower Back Pain

    Morbidly obese patients who experience a significant and sustained excess weight loss through bariatric surgery may experience improvements in lower back pain and associated physical dysfunction. One study showed that patients had significantly improved their physical functioning, consequently reducing physical disability, at 2 years after their bariatric surgery. In another study, 81% of patients who underwent the Gastric Banding Procedure had improved their joint or back pain when surveyed at 12 months following surgery and 65% had reduced or discontinued their pain medication.

  • Metabolic Syndrome

    What is Metabolic Syndrome?

    People who are diagnosed with metabolic syndrome have 3 out of 5 of the following factors – abdominal obesity, elevated triglycerides (a form of ‘bad’ cholesterol), reduced HDL cholesterol (the ‘good’ one), elevated blood pressure and elevated fasting blood sugar.

    How obesity can affect Metabolic Syndrome

    Metabolic Syndrome is a growing public health problem that is closely associated with obesity. Patients with metabolic syndrome are around twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease and 5 times more likely to acquire type 2 diabetes than people without this health problem.

    How losing excess weight may improve Metabolic Syndrome

    Losing excess weight is strongly recommended for people with metabolic syndrome and every 1kg lost is equivalent to an 8% reduction in the chances of acquiring it. The sustained weight loss that can be achieved through the Gastric Banding Procedure may help in reducing the risk of metabolic syndrome. It is increasingly recognised that the 5 diagnostic factors – abdominal obesity, elevated triglycerides, reduced HDL cholesterol (the “good” one), elevated blood pressure and elevated fasting glucose – provide the greatest health risk for overweight and obese people. In a study of 147 bariatric patients with hypertension, only 17 had normal blood pressure prior to surgery but 12 months after surgery 105 had normal blood pressure. Researchers reported that 80 people had completely resolved their hypertension by 12 months and another 45 patients had reduced their blood pressure.

  • Mortality

    What is mortality?

    I think we all know that mortality is not a good thing.

    How obesity can affect mortality

    Morbid obesity is associated with a decrease in life expectancy compared with people within normal weight range. The risk of early death increases with an increasing body mass index (BMI) regardless of age, sex or ethnicity.

    How losing excess weight may improve mortality

    Several large studies have shown that losing excess weight can affect mortality rates. One study found that patients who had the Gastric Banding Procedure were less likely to die while another study of patients undergoing Gastric Bypass found an 89% decrease in the risk of death at 5 years after weight loss surgery compared with patients who did not have surgery. A third study, also on Gastric Bypass, reported a 40% reduction in risk of death compared with the control group at an average of around 7 years after bariatric surgery.

  • Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver

    What is Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?

    Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is a chronic liver disease that can cause cirrhosis (i.e., scarring and poor liver function) and cancer of the liver. NAFLD has also been linked to type 2 diabetes.

    How obesity can affect NAFLD

    Obesity is a risk factor for asymptomatic increase of particular liver enzymes into the blood; these enzymes can signal liver disease. Research has demonstrated that 84% of morbidly obese people have fatty liver and 20% have inflammation of the liver, which is linked to NAFLD.

    How losing excess weight may improve NAFLD

    Excess weight loss through bariatric surgery may improve or resolveNAFLD and is associated with improvements in the condition of cells and tissues of the liver. Surgically induced weight loss has also been linked with reductions in the severity of fatty liver disease.

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

    What is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea?

    Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is the most common sleep-related breathing disorder and is characterised by gasping or ‘snorting’ noises during sleep causing irregular, interrupted sleep. Patients with OSA may experience excessive daytime sleepiness.

    How obesity can affect OSA

    Obesity is a risk factor for OSA with the severity of the symptoms climbing with the percentage of excess body weight. People with OSA often stay sleepy throughout the day and may fall asleep at inappropriate times such as while watching TV, eating, reading or driving and frequently they do not recognise that they have this problem.

    How losing excess weight may improve OSA

    Weight loss achieved through the Gastric Banding Procedure may bring about significant improvement or resolution in the symptoms of OSA. In one study, OSA improved in 64% of patients and in another it improved or resolved altogether in 33% of patients after the Gastric Banding Procedure. One of these studies also showed a reduction (81% to 34%) in the use of machines that help people breath properly while they are sleeping. This finding was also reported in a review of the research which also noted reports of improvement in sleep quality, excessive daytime sleepiness, snoring and nocturnal choking following the Gastric Banding Procedure.

  • Quality of life

    What is health related quality of life?

    Health related quality of life (HRQOL) includes perceived health status and a person’s own ratings of their physical, psychological and social areas of health.

    How obesity can affect HRQOL

    Severity of obesity correlates directly to HRQOL. Obesity impacts important aspects of HRQOL such as physical health, emotional wellbeing and psychosocial functioning. Higher excess weight is associated with decreased interpersonal and work abilities, mobility, self-esteem, sexual life and the activities of daily living.

    How losing excess weight may improve HRQOL

    Improvements in HRQOL may be one of the most gratifying outcomes of the significant and sustained weight loss that can be achieved following the surgical treatment for obesity. Several large studies have reported significant improvements in HRQOL following the Gastric Banding Procedure. One study reported dramatic improvements in quality of life at one year when compared with the general community. A second study confirmed significant improvements in quality of life at 13 months following the Gastric Banding Procedure and a third study repeated these results showing highly significant improvements at 12 months following the procedure.


  • Type 2 Diabetes

    What is Type 2 Diabetes?

    Around 90%-95% of diabetes in adults is of the type 2 variety. Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is characterised by insulin resistance; a condition in which cells do not use insulin correctly and the pancreas gradually loses its ability to produce it.

    How obesity can affect T2D

    Obesity is a major risk factor for T2D with around 80% of those with the disease having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. The risk of developing T2D has been shown to increase with the severity of obesity. Diabetes has been associated with serious health conditions such as blindness, kidney damage, cardiovascular disease and lower limb amputations. Many people with diabetes need to take medication to help control their blood pressure and cholesterol.

    How losing excess weight may improve T2D

    Improvements in diabetes may be seen in conjunction with the sustained weight loss achievable with bariatric surgery and remission of T2D appears dependent on weight loss. Four studies have reported a 45% to 80% rate of improvement or remission at 1-4 years after the Gastric Banding Procedure. Data from 14 studies demonstrated a statistically significant 60% resolution of T2D in Gastric Band patients at 2 years after the procedure.

  • Urinary Stress Incontinence

    What is Urinary Stress Incontinence?

    Stress incontinence is an involuntary loss of urine that occurs during physical activity such as coughing, sneezing, laughing or exercise.

    How obesity can affect Urinary Stress Incontinence

    Obesity-related stress incontinence is more common in women, although obese men report experiencing urinary urgency. Increased waist circumference caused by obesity results in increased intra-abdominal and urinary bladder pressure.

    How Losing Excess Weight May Improve Urinary Stress Incontinence

    The Gastric Banding Procedure has been shown to promote sustained weight loss that can reduce waist circumference and reduce intra-abdominal pressure. A number of studies have demonstrated a significant rate (64% to 95%) of resolution or improvement in urinary incontinence following bariatric surgery.

  • Venous Stasis Disease

    What is Venous Stasis Disease?

    Venous stasis occurs when the veins in the legs that would normally carry blood back to the heart are not functioning properly causing blood to pool and clot. Blood clots in the superficial veins are called superficial phlebitis and those in the deep veins are known as deep venous thrombosis (DVT). This condition can also cause leg ulcers and oedema (swelling) in the lower extremities.

    How obesity can affect Venous Stasis Disease

    Morbid obesity can be a risk factor for developing life-threatening conditions associated with venous stasis disease including DVT, pulmonary embolism – where the DVT moves into the lungs and destroys lung tissue by blocking blood flow – and venous ulcers which can be very difficult to treat.

    How losing excess weight may improve Venous Stasis Disease

    Weight loss that is significant and sustained, such as that which can be achieved through bariatric surgery, can be effective in treating and healing Venous Stasis Disease. In one study,venous stasis ulcers resolved in 97% of morbidly obese patients within one year of bariatric surgery; however,ulcers recurred in two patients who regained large amounts of weight.Oedema on the lower front legs and the shin was resolved in 94% of cases at one year. A Taiwanese study of obese people who had undergone the Gastric Banding Procedure demonstrated a 100% resolution of venous stasis disease at 6 months.