Obesity poses a higher risk of type 2 diabetes in women, and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and chronic kidney disease in men, said a new study from the University of Oxford.
“The study shows just how harmful carrying excess weight can be to human health, and that women and men may experience different diseases as a result,” said the study’s first author Jenny Censin.
To identify additional causes of death made worse by obesity, researchers performed an analysis that explores cause-and-effect relationships using genetic data and three measures of obesity from 228,466 women and 195,041 men in the UK Biobank.
Their analysis showed that obesity contributes to a laundry list of health problems including coronary artery disease, type 1 and 2 diabetes, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, chronic liver disease, and kidney failure.
While obesity causes type 2 diabetes in both women and men, women experienced a higher risk of type 2 diabetes as compared to men, while men faced a greater risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and chronic kidney disease.
“Given the compelling evidence of harm that arises as a consequence of obesity across a broad range of diseases that result in death, our findings highlight the critical need for public health measures to stem the tide of obesity,” said researcher Michael Holmes, who supervised the work together with researcher Cecilia Lindgren.
Overall, the study found that obesity causes or contributes to the majority of the leading causes of death worldwide that are not linked to infectious diseases.
The impact of obesity, however, manifests differently in men and women.