4. Reduced Risk for Dementia
Nearly half of Americans have too much visceral fat, the abdominal fat that surrounds your internal organs, visible in their protruding bellies. The danger is this: visceral fat contains cells that release inflammation-causing chemicals in the body, which can cause memory loss and increase your chances of developing dementia.
Additionally, 2 symptoms of obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, can put you at risk for stroke. Some strokes, known as “silent strokes” can occur without symptoms – but each time, blood is cut off to the brain, resulting in damaged, dementia-prone brain tissue. High blood pressure and cholesterol can also increase the likelihood that you’ll develop Alzheimer’s disease.
5. Reduced Risk for Sleep Apnea
When you are overweight, extra tissue thickens your windpipe wall, narrowing your airway. Consequently, the size of your tongue and tonsils become a threat to the narrowed airway – especially when you are sleeping, and can cause a life-threatening condition known as sleep apnea. In this illness, an unsuccessful effort to take in air results in a dangerously low oxygen level while you're sleeping. Your brain shocks your body awake to keep you alive. If you have severe sleep apnea, you can be woken up hundreds of times a night.
Losing just 10 pounds can widen your windpipe, helping you sleep through the night and reduce your risk for developing sleep apnea. And when you sleep well, your levels of leptin (the hormone that signals when you’ve had enough to eat) rise. So, a good night’s sleep will help you lose even more weight.
6. Reduced Joint Pain
Being overweight puts huge pressure on your joints. For each extra pound of excess weight on your body, you add 3 times that amount of pressure on your knees. This means that 10 extra pounds equates to 30 pounds of pressure grinding down. And when walking up stairs, multiply your extra weight by 7. Thirty pounds of pressure just became 70 pounds. Over time, this force wears away your cartilage, leaving an area of arthritis.
As you lose weight and reduce the pressure on your joints, the cushioning between your bones will build back up. A 10 pound weight loss over 10 years may result in as much as a 50% decrease in your odds of developing osteoarthritis.
7. Reduced Risk for Cancer
Obesity increases cancer risk. The exact reasoning remains unclear– but fat cells are highly active, releasing large amounts of hormones like estrogen, insulin, and insulin-like growth factors that can fuel many cancers.
The risk for many types of cancers declines when you lose weight, but it's particularly true for breast and uterine cancer, where losing only 8 pounds can significantly reduce the levels of specific carcinogenic hormones.