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Long-term health conditions
High blood cholesterol
High blood cholesterol is also a major risk factor for coronary heart disease and stroke by causing blood vessels that supply the heart and other parts of the body to become clogged. For most people, saturated fat in their diet is the main reason for elevated blood cholesterol levels. Physical activity and a healthy diet play an important role in maintaining a healthy blood cholesterol level.
One in ten men who were obese had high blood cholesterol levels (10%), almost double that of normal weight men with high blood cholesterol levels (6%). Similarly, around twice as many obese women had high blood cholesterol levels (9%) compared with women of normal weight (4%).
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition caused mainly by accumulated wear of the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones where they meet to form a joint. As the cartilage degenerates, the normal functioning of the joint becomes disrupted which causes pain, stiffness and limited activity. The condition mainly affects the hands, spine and weight-bearing joints such as the hips, knees and ankles. Excess body weight is one of the risk factors for osteoarthritis.
The prevalence of osteoarthritis in 2007-08 was significantly higher for obese men and women (10% and 14% respectively) compared with underweight/normal weight (6% and 11%) and overweight (8% and 12%) men and women.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes or non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus is a chronic condition in which the body may not produce enough or cannot effectively use insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar. People with Type 2 diabetes have a greater risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, limb amputation, kidney failure and blindness. Strategies for managing Type 2 diabetes include changing diet, exercising more regularly, taking glucose-lowering drugs, insulin injections or a combination of these.
Obese men were more than twice as likely to have Type 2 diabetes (9%) than normal weight and overweight men (both 4%). Correspondingly, obese women were twice as likely to have Type 2 diabetes (6%) than overweight women (3%) and three times more likely as underweight/normal weight women to have Type 2 diabetes (2%).
In the 2007-08 NHS, adults aged 18 years and over were asked a series of questions about negative emotional states, known as the Kessler 10 scale (K10) questionnaire, to measure psychological distress experienced in the four weeks prior to the survey. Based on their responses they were then grouped into four categories ranging from low, moderate, high and very high levels of psychological distress. A very high level of psychological distress may indicate a need for professional help.
After adjusting for age, a higher proportion of obese people had very high distress levels compared with people in any other weight range (Graph 6.3).
Obese women were more likely to have very high or high distress levels (17%) than normal weight and overweight women (13% and 12% respectively). Obese women were also more likely to have very high or high distress levels than obese men (9%).