Causes & Risks Of Excess Weight

We see it all around us: new diet trends, advertisements of fat-burning workouts or the latest diet pill. It’s clear that excess weight is a concern of many. But what defines excess weight?

Each body is unique and the number on the scale has a different meaning for each body. However, there are universally accepted methods to measuring excess weight for every body. You may be familiar with body mass index (BMI) or other guides defining underweight, normal, and overweight ranges but these measures are becoming increasingly outdated due to their unreliability and inability to capture unique individual differences in body shape characteristics [1]. One effective method to measuring excess weight is Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) which uses low electrical currents to reliably measure body composition including fat mass, fat-free mass, and total water in the body [2]. This is the method we choose to use at Preventous as part of our Body Composition Analysis.

In this month’s newsletter, we expose the typical causes of excess weight and potential risk factors associated with excess weight. By doing so we hope to help you understand the source and implications of excess weight and therefore inspire you to avoid or shed excess lbs.


DIET: We’ve heard it thousands of times before: your eating habits affect your weight [3]. Not only does quantity of food impact weight gain but so does what you’re eating (e.g., foods that are high in fat or carbohydrates or sugar) as well as the portion size of each meal [4].


SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE: A lifestyle with little to no physical activity can contribute to excess weight because of both a lack of calorie expenditure and a surplus of caloric consumption while sedentary [5]. Conversely, increasing physical activity can lead to a decrease in weight, when combined with other strategies (e.g., having good sleep quality or making healthy food choices) [6].

LACK OF SLEEP: Ironically, doing nothing at all physically, can be beneficial for one’s weight. Studies have shown that consistent lack of sleep is a contributing factor of weight gain [7]. This relationship is especially apparent in childhood: children who sleep less than expected are significantly more at risk of having a higher BMI later in life [8].

HORMONES: Through various mechanisms, the persistent presence of stress hormones (the primary one being cortisol) can lead to weight gain [9].

MEDICATIONS: You may be unaware of the side-effects that your medications are causing to your body. For example, drugs used to treat diabetes, antidepressants, epileptic seizure medication, and others are known contributors to weight gain [3].

OTHER: Hypothyroidism, polycystic ovary syndrome and other neuroendocrine conditions are also explanations for excess weight [3]. These sources of excess weight are unfortunately harder to control without medical intervention.


HEART DISEASE: Studies have shown that excess weight increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease [10]. Moreover, this risk exists with and without comorbidities such as hypertension and diabetes which are also affected by excess weight and contribute to the onset of heart disease [10].

SLEEP APNEA: Sleep apnea is the occurrence of repetitive interruptions in breathing while sleeping. Many people struggle with sleep apnea, for various reasons, but one common explanation for sleep apnea is excess weight [11]. Studies have established that as BMI & other measures of excess weight increase, so does the prevalence of sleep apnea [11].

KIDNEY DISEASE: Scientists have long been studying the causes of kidney diseases such as chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Turns out that one considerable risk factor for developing CKD or ESRD is excess weight [12]. This may be due to the relationship that increased BMI has with diabetes and hypertension which are known contributors to kidney diseases [12].

HYPERTENSION: High blood pressure is another risk of excess weight. Excess weight is a contributing factor of raised blood pressure and this impact can be reduced by as much as 40% in overweight people by losing weight [13].

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DIABETES: Individuals with higher levels of excess weight face more of a risk of developing diabetes than others who have lower levels of excess weight [14]. This risk is more pronounced the longer an individual has the excess weight [14].

OTHER: This above list outlining the risks of excess weight is not exhaustive and there are other risks associated with excess weight. For example, excess weight has been linked to various cancers such as endometrial, renal and liver [15]. A major contributor to osteoarthritis is also excess weight: the higher the BMI, the higher the risk of developing osteoarthritis [16].


Having read about what could be causing one’s excess weight and now knowing the potential consequences of carrying excess weight, we hope each of you feels equipped to answer the question “Do I really need to drop those 30 pounds?”

Preventous offers various services to help those interested in avoiding or shedding excess weight. From preventative medical assessments to nutritional advice to counselling services and fitness assessments, Preventous can provide you with a comprehensive plan to preventing or shedding excess weight. If you’re someone who wishes to avoid excess weight or wishes to get rid of excess weight, please contact our office, we’d be happy to help.

16. Felson DT. Does excess weight cause osteoarthritis and, if so, why?. Annals of the rheumatic diseases. 1996 Sep;55(9):668. If you have any questions, please call us to check in with your doctor: 403.229.0129. The Preventous team is here for you. Our approach to medicine has always been focused on preventative strategies that reduce the appearance of disease and enhance the individual overall wellbeing. Our 24/7 on-call service is also available. You can reach our after-hours on-call service at 403.212.0545 Do not hesitate to reach out to our team at Preventous and explore all resources that are at your complete disposal.


Dr. Rohan Bissoondath,
Medical Director

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