If you are obese or morbidly obese, you are at risk for developing a number of serious health problems. The most common conditions include:

  • Depression — Depression is very common after repeated failure with dieting and disapproval from family, friends and the public.
  • Diabetes — Obese individuals develop a resistance to insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels. Over time, high blood sugar can cause type 2 diabetes that can lead to serious damage to the body.
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux or Heartburn — When acid escapes from the stomach into the esophagus through a weak or overloaded valve, can occur, causing "heartburn" and acid indigestion. Gastroesophageal reflux disease can lead to Barrett's esophagus, a pre-cancerous change in the lining of the esophagus and a cause of esophageal cancer.
  • High Blood Pressure and Heart Disease — Excess body weight strains the heart. This may lead to high blood pressure, which can cause strokes as well as heart and kidney damage.
  • Incontinence — In obese people, a large, heavy abdomen may cause the valve on the urinary bladder to weaken, leading to urinary stress incontinence or the leakage of urine with coughing, sneezing or laughing.
  • Infertility — Obese women may experience infertility — an inability or diminished ability to become pregnant.
  • Menstrual Irregularities — Morbidly obese women may experience disruptions of menstrual cycles as well as abnormal flow and increased pain.
  • Osteoarthritis — The weight placed on joints, particularly knees and hips, results in rapid wear and tear of joints as well as pain caused by inflammation, called osteoarthritis. Excess weight puts a strain on bones and muscles of the back, which can cause disk problems, pain and decreased mobility.
  • Sleep Apnea and Respiratory Problems — Fat deposits in the tongue and neck can cause intermittent obstruction of your air passage, called sleep apnea. Because the obstruction is more severe when sleeping on your back, you may wake frequently to reposition yourself. Loss of sleep often causes drowsiness and headaches.

Depending on your health, your doctor may recommend one or several treatment options, ranging from diet to medication to surgery.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers


Bariatric Surgery Center
400 Parnassus Ave., Sixth Floor, Reception Desk 6S
San Francisco, CA 94143-0338
Phone (existing patients):
(415) 353-2161
Phone (new patients):
(415) 353-2804
Fax: (415) 353-2505
Appointment information

Obesity and Weight Management
1701 Divisadero St., Suite 500
San Francisco, CA 94143-0320
Phone: (415) 353-2105
Fax: (415) 353-7901
Appointment information