There are no specific symptoms of obesity, and being overweight may not cause any noticeable problems at first. However, once you are carrying some extra pounds, you may develop unpleasant symptoms that affect your daily life, such as:
- Breathing problems
- Trouble sleeping
- Inability to cope with physical activity
- Increased sweating
- Chronic pain (especially in the joints and back)
- Varicose veins
- Digestive problems
- Skin problems
- Feeling tired or exhausted
- Feeling isolated.
Since obesity has reached epidemic proportions, with 68% of American population being overweight and 34% being obese, and the worldwide obesity having tripled since 1975, this public health problem has raised concern worldwide. And since the prevention and reduction of overweight and obesity depend ultimately on individual problem recognition, here are signs to watch for:
- Your face becomes rounder, fuller or puffier. It is said that it always starts with the face. If your face starts looking bloated and pale, it is the first sign that you are gaining weight everywhere else. A double chin is another telltale sign that those unwanted pounds are seeping in.
- Your waist circumference has increased too much. Although it is normal to gain weight with age, unhealthy fat distribution, such as around hips and abdomen, is a sign of obesity. If you notice that your not-so-old jeans don’t fit the way they did before, it suggests that you have too much fat in your belly. Women with a waist circumference over 35 inches and men over 40 inches are at an increased risk for obesity.
- You have sleeping problems. If you lie down to fall asleep and feel an uncomfortable sensation of bugs crawling under your skin which makes you move and kick your legs as you fall asleep, it can be a restless legs syndrome. Irresistible urge to move legs makes it hard to fall or stay asleep, resulting in sleep-onset insomnia. Obese people have decreased dopamine D2 receptor availability in the brain, and thus are at increased risk of this syndrome.
- You snore. If you hear complaints that you have started snoring which you never used to before, be cautious. You may have sleep apnea where excess fat around the neck narrows the airway which results in shallow breathing or brief pauses in breathing due to decreased oxygen in the blood. This irregular breathing can disturb your sleep and compromise your ability to rest.
- You tend to shun public gatherings. You don’t want to see other people or maybe you don’t want them to see you? Feeling ashamed, lacking confidence and starting leaving as a hermit are clear signs of depression. You are afraid to be made fun of and decide to disappear into thin air.
- Your desire for sex nosedives. An increase in your weight may lead to the lack of sexual desire. This can arise from difficulty with sexual performance due to poor blood circulation in the genital area, body image discomfort, body pain and dissatisfaction with sexual intercourse.
- You have tender spots. If you easily feel pain in random places in your body, it is a sign of being overweight. The fatty tissue beneath the skin becomes tender to the touch due to inflammation caused by obesity. This results in spotty bruising.
- Your joints hurt. Excess weight puts extra pressure on joints and wears down the tissue around them, making moving uncomfortable and painful. The heavier you become, the more your joints suffer, particularly in the knees, hips and back.
- You have chronic headaches. Headaches can be caused by a symptom of obesity. For instance, many overweight people suffer from sleep disorder or poor sleep quality, and this is a clear headache trigger. Alternatively, overweight people are more likely to eat junk food that contains known migraine triggers like caffeine, sugar, processed meat and MSG. At this, the risks of migraine increases with increasing obesity status.
If you are concerned about weight-related problems or think you may be obese, consult your doctor.