Top 5 Common Causes of Death for People Over 300 Pounds


Type 2 Diabetes

When you carry extra weight -- even just an extra 5 to 10 percent over your ideal weight range -- you increase your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. What's the link? It's because you're overworking your pancreas.

After you eat, your body breaks food down into the nutrients it needs to function properly. Glucose is a sugar the body uses as a source of energy. When you eat, glucose enters your bloodstream and triggers your pancreas to release insulin, a hormone that helps cells store glucose as energy for later use. The body's inability to use the insulin it makes properly is called insulin resistance, and it's one of the early signs that you're on your way to becoming a diabetic. Over time, the body becomes less and less able to process enough insulin to meet the body's needs, and glucose builds up in the bloodstream. More glucose in the bloodstream triggers the pancreas to produce more insulin, until the pancreas can't keep up with the load.

Diabetes is more prevalent in people who are overweight and obese. When you gain weight, your fat cells need to store excess fat, and that puts stress on them. They begin to malfunction, and it's thought that when the cells malfunction they can't communicate effectively with the rest of the body, increasing the risk for insulin resistance.

While diabetes is a preventable and manageable disease, it can have serious complications if left untreated, and it's estimated that about 6 million Americans don't know they are diabetic [source: National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse]. Uncontrolled type 2 diabetes can lead to cardiovascular disease, kidney damage and dysfunction, periodontal disease, blindness (diabetic retinopathy), nerve damage (that can lead to loss of limbs) and death.

Related Articles


  • American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. "How Stressed Fat Tissue Malfunctions." Science Daily. July 22, 2009. (Oct. 21, 2010)
  • American Heart Association. "Metabolic Syndrome." 2010. (Oct. 21, 2010)
  • American Heart Association. "Stroke Risk Factors." 2010. (Oct. 21, 2010)
  • American Obesity Treatment Association. "Morbid Obesity." 2010. (Oct. 21, 2010)
  • American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery. "Rationale for the Surgical Treatment of Morbid Obesity." Nov. 23, 2005. (Oct. 21, 2010)
  • Angulo, Paul. "Long-term Mortality in Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Is Liver Histology of Any Prognostic Significance?" Hepatology. Jan. 12, 2010. (Oct. 21, 2010)
  • Calle, Eugenia E. et al. "Overweight, Obesity, and Mortality from Cancer in a Prospectively Studied Cohort of U.S. Adults." The New England Journal of Medicine. April 24, 2003. (Oct. 21, 2010)
  • Carmona, Richard H. "The Obesity Crisis in America." Office of the Surgeon General. Jan. 8, 2007. (Oct. 21, 2010)
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "National Diabetes Fact Sheet, 2007." 2008. (Oct. 21, 2010)
  • Engelhardt, Rita and Bruce Ovbiagele. "Stroke Increase And Obesity Linked Among Middle-Aged Women." Medical News Today. Feb 21, 2008. (Oct. 21, 2010)
  • "Health Effects of Morbid Obesity." 2010. (Oct. 21, 2010)
  • Harvard Gazette. "Stroke risk from obesity is now measurable." Dec. 12, 2002. (Oct. 21, 2010)
  • Mayo Clinic. "Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: Risk factors." Feb. 19, 2009. (Oct. 21, 2010)
  • Mokdad, Ali H. et al. "Actual Causes of Death in the United States, 2000." Journal of the American Medical Association. March 10, 2004. (Oct. 21, 2010)
  • National Cancer Institute. "Obesity and Cancer: Questions and Answers." March 16, 2004. (Oct. 21, 2010)
  • National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. "Am I at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes?" National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. November 2008. (Oct. 21, 2010)
  • National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. "Calculate Your Body Mass Index." 2010. (Oct. 21, 2010)
  • National Institutes of Health. "Heart disease." Aug. 19, 2010. (Oct.21, 2010.)
  • Obesity Action Coalition. "Educational Tools." 2010. (Oct. 21, 2010)
  • Polednak, A.P. "Trends in incidence rates for obesity-associated cancers in the US." Cancer Detection and Prevention Journal. 2003. (Oct. 21, 2010)
  • Wanless, I.R. and J.S. Lentz. "Fatty liver hepatitis (steatohepatitis) and obesity: an autopsy study with analysis of risk factors." Hepatology. November 1990. (Oct. 21, 2010)
  • Weight-control Information Network. "Statistics Related to Overweight and Obesity." National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. February 2010. (Oct. 21, 2010)
  • Weise, Elizabeth. "Researchers link inflammation to illness in overweight people." USA Today. March 8, 2010. (Oct. 21, 2010)


The Sarco Suicide Pod: Controversial or Compassionate?

The Sarco Suicide Pod: Controversial or Compassionate?

Imagine the suicide booth on 'Futurama,' only real. Learn more about the Sarco suicide pod at HowStuffWorks.