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Obesity is often accompanied by other medical conditions, called comorbidities. Obese people are more likely to suffer from these conditions than people of normal weight.

The most common comorbidities among obese people are:


Type II Diabetes Sleep Apnea Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) Heart Disease Some forms of cancer Stroke Osteoarthritis Depression Dyslipdemia Gallbladder Disease Reduced Fertility

Type II Diabetes

Type II diabetes, also called non-insulin dependent diabetes, is the most common form of the disease. Type II diabetes results from insulin resistance (a condition in which the body fails to properly use insulin) combined with relative insulin deficiency. Sixty-seven percent of people with type II diabetes have a BMI of greater than 27, and 46 percent have a BMI of greater than 30. Up to 70 percent of diabetes risk in the U.S. can be attributed to being overweight or obese. Weight loss significantly decreases the risk of developing diabetes.

Visit the Endocrinology Department to learn about diabetes treatment at Lahey.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition with which a person stops breathing while asleep. This can happen 30 or more times over the course of a single night. Sleep apnea is almost always caused by being overweight, and therefore weight loss will often cure the condition.

Learn more about sleep apnea causes and treatments by visiting Lahey’s Sleep Disorders Center.


Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is significantly more common in people who are obese than in people whose weights are normal. About 40 percent of Americans who have a BMI greater than 30 suffer from hypertension; only about 15 percent of Americans with BMIs below 25 do. Consequently, if excess weight is causing high blood pressure, weight loss will most likely cure it.

Learn more about hypertension treatment at Lahey’s Heart and Vascular Center

Heart Disease

Heart disease is a general term used to describe a variety of conditions that affect parts of the heart or the heart as a whole. Obesity is a risk factor for almost every type of heart disease, including coronary artery disease, heart attack and heart failure.

Learn more about treatment for heart disease at Lahey’s Heart and Vascular Center

Some Forms of Cancer

Obesity has been shown to increase a person’s likelihood of uterine, breast, colorectal, kidney and gallbladder cancers. A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people with BMIs of greater than 40 were more than 50 percent more likely to die from cancer than normal-weight men and women.

Learn more about cancer treatment at Lahey by visiting the Sophia Gordon Cancer Center.  


Stroke is caused by an interruption of blood flow to the brain or other parts of the nervous system. This interruption deprives the brain of oxygen and vital nutrients, and within minutes, brain cells begin to die. Stroke is the third-leading cause of death in the United States. Obesity increases the risk of having a stroke.

Learn more about the services provided through Lahey Hospital & Medical Center’s Department of Neurology and the Cerebrovascular Disease Center.


Dyslipidemia is a disorder of lipoprotein metabolism, usually caused by excessively high cholesterol. Dyslipidemia is a primary risk factor for coronary artery disease. Obesity increases triglyceride levels and decreases high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, both of which are factors in developing dyslipidemia.

Learn more about lipid disorders by visiting the pages for Cardiovascular & Cardiovascular Surgery.

Gallbladder Disease

Diseases of the gallbladder include gallstones and gallbladder cancer. A recent study found that obesity increases the risk of gallbladder disease because it affects bile production, which can lead to gallstone and other problems.

Learn more about the treatment of gallbladder disease at Lahey’s Department of Gastroenterology and Department of General Surgery.

Reduced Fertility

The connection between obesity and infertility is somewhat complex. When a woman is extremely overweight, hormones from her adrenal gland can behave like estrogen and cause problems with normal ovulation. Obesity is also connected to a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome, which can lead to infertility.

Learn more about fertility treatment at Lahey by visiting the Department of Reproductive Medicine.


Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease of the cartilage and bones. Obese people are more prone to osteoarthritis because of the pressure excess weight puts on the joints.

Learn about osteoarthritis treatment in the Department of Rheumatology.


Depression is a serious illness that involves the mind, body and mood. It includes feeling of worthlessness and despair and physical manifestations such as fatigue and chronic aches and pains. Numerous medical studies have shown links between depression, obesity and other comorbid conditions such as diabetes.

Learn more about the treatment of depression at Lahey’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine.