Impairments to health

Obesity is a serious chronic condition associated with multiple comorbidities, but weight loss can have an impact on some complications.1,2

Obesity is associated with at least 60 comorbidities, some of which can be improved through weight loss1-4

Explore some of the weight-related complications that are associated with obesity3:

List of weight related complications
  • Patients with obesity and depression interested in weight loss should be offered structured lifestyle intervention3
  • Weight loss of 5% to 10% may reduce the risk for emergent depression2
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Patients with obesity and GERD should be treated for weight loss. In these patients, the weight-loss goal should be 10% of body weight or greater3
Diabetes risk, metabolic syndrome, and prediabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome is characterized by the concurrent presence of at least 3 of 5 specific conditions: abdominal obesity, raised triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, and elevated blood glucose5
  • Weight loss of 2.5% to 10% can prevent diabetes in impaired glucose tolerance2
Type 2 diabetes
  • Weight loss of 2.5% to >15% improves glycemic control; greater weight loss is associated with greater glycemic improvement2
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease/nonalcoholic steatohepatitis
  • 50%-90% of patients with obesity are estimated to have NAFLD, compared to 15-30% of the general population6
  • Weight loss of 10% or more is needed to significantly improve nonalcoholic steatohepatitis activity score2
Female infertility
  • Weight loss of 2% to 5% improves ovulatory cycle, with more weight loss producing a more robust effect2
Male hypogonadism
  • Weight loss of more than 5% to 10% is needed for significant improvement in serum testosterone3
Cancers (various)
  • 13 cancers are associated with excess weight and obesity7
  • About 40% of all cancers diagnosed in the US have been associated with overweight and obesity7
Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Up to 45% of adults with obesity are estimated to have OSA, compared with ~25% of the general population8
  • Weight loss of 10% or more can significantly improve apnea hypopnea index in OSA2
  • Weight loss of 2.5% to >15% is associated with lower triglycerides2
  • Weight loss of 5% to >15% is associated with HDL increase (Not true for BMI >40)2
Asthma/reactive airway disease
  • Patients with obesity and asthma should be treated with weight loss using lifestyle interventions but additional treatment modalities may be considered. For these patients, the weight-loss goal should be at least 7% to 8%3
Cardiovascular disease* and cardiovascular disease mortality
  • More than 80% of patients with HFpEF have overweight or obesity9
  • Weight loss of 7% has been shown to increase exercise tolerance, and improve other measures of diastolic heart function in a study of 100 older patients (67 +/- 5 years) with obesity and clinically stable HFpEF9

*Includes diastolic heart failure, often called HFpEF.

  • Weight loss of 5%-10% was shown to increase odds of achieving a 5-mmHg reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in a study of 5,145 patients with overweight or obesity and type 2 diabetes4
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Up to 80% of women diagnosed with PCOS are reported to also have overweight or obesity10
Urinary stress incontinence
  • Weight loss of 5% to 10% improves symptoms in men and women3
  • Weight loss of 5% to 10% improves knee functionality, pain, walking distance, and speed2

Even modest amounts of weight loss can improve certain comorbidities4

Graph depicting how weight loss can provide a clinical benefit for comorbidities

Obesity is a serious health risk, but studies show that weight loss can have an impact on some weight-related comorbidities. For certain conditions, greater weight loss may be associated with greater improvements.2,4

*Not true for BMI >40 kg/m2.2
While weight loss of 5% or more may provide a clinical benefit to the signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis, no change is evident in knee MRIs or X-rays.2

Obesity may shorten life expectancy by up to 8 years in adults aged 20 to 39 with a BMI 30 kg/m2 11

Graph depicting years of life lost in men and women with BMI of 30 to <35 kg/m

Study Design

Calculated years of life lost in men and women with BMI of 30 to <35 kg/m2, compared to those with ideal body weight, defined as a BMI of 18.5 to <25 kg/m2. Data are based on cardiometabolic risk factors in US adults in the National Health Examinations and Nutrition Survey data from 2003 to 2010.11

Risk assessment tool

This tool can help you assess the risks weight-related comorbidities pose to your patients and plan a course of action to help alleviate these conditions through long-term weight management.

Use the tool
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Obesity treatment case studies

Review case studies about patients with obesity that may be similar to patients you see in your own practice.


Obesity is caused by a range of factors


Treating obesity requires a long-term weight-management plan



1. Bays HE, McCarthy W, Christensen S, et al. Obesity algorithm 2020. Presented by the Obesity Medicine Association. Accessed March 16, 2021.

2. Ryan DH, Yockey SR. Weight loss and improvement in comorbidity: differences at 5%, 10%, 15%, and over. Curr Obes Rep. 2017;6(2):187-194.

3. Garvey WT, Mechanick JI, Brett EM, et al. American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and American College of Endocrinology comprehensive clinical practice guidelines for medical care of patients with obesity. Endocr Pract. 2016;22(suppl 3):1-203.

4. Wing RR, Lang W, Wadden TA, et al. Benefits of modest weight loss in improving cardiovascular risk factors in overweight and obese individuals with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2011;34(7):1481-1486.

5. Metabolic syndrome. Accessed November 24, 2020.

6. Divella R, Mazzocca A, Daniele A, Sabbà C, Paradiso A. Obesity, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and adipocytokines network in promotion of cancer. Int J Biol Sci. 2019;15(3):610-616. Published 2019 Jan 1.

7. Cancers associated with overweight and obesity make up 40 percent of cancers diagnosed in the United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed February 5, 2021.

8. Romero-Corral A, Caples SM, Lopez-Jimenez F, Somers VK. Interactions between obesity and obstructive sleep apnea: implications for treatment. Chest. 2010;137(3):711-719.

9. Kitzman DW, Brubaker P, Morgan T, et al. Effect of caloric restriction or aerobic exercise training on peak oxygen consumption and quality of life in obese older patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 2016;315(1):36-46.

10. Sam S. Obesity and polycystic ovary syndrome. Obes Manag. 2007;3(2):69-73.

11. Grover SA, Kaouache M, Rempel P, et al. Years of life lost and healthy life years lost from diabetes and cardiovascular disease in overweight and obese people: a modelling study. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2015;3(2);114-122.