Obesity Effects Fatigue

Obesity side effects include increased fatigue and mobility problems that seriously impact quality of life. Social life, career opportunities and health may all be impaired by obesity-related fatigue.

Obesity and Fatigue

An overweight or obese person’s heart and lungs must work harder than normal to deliver oxygen to the body. For people who are significantly obese, the simple act of carrying extra weight drains energy quickly. Even a task as simple as walking can be tiring to someone with severe obesity.

Obesity and fatigue can make losing weight extremely tough. Fatigue makes it difficult to engage in physical activity that could burn calories. The more sedentary an individual becomes, the more weight she is likely to gain. Carrying extra weight increases fatigue, and increased fatigue lowers activity levels. Subsequently, lowered activity levels encourage weight gain, and so on.

Medical Causes of Obesity and Fatigue

In addition to the strain of carrying extra weight, some obesity side effects also cause fatigue. Sleep apnea, for instance, is a sleep disorder that often accompanies obesity. Sleep apnea causes the airways to collapse during sleep, halting breathing for short periods and disrupting the sleep cycle.

Fat tissue in the throat can trigger sleep apnea. In addition to fatigue, sleep apnea increases the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. People with both obesity and fatigue should be checked for sleep apnea.

Hormonal conditions like hypothyroidism can cause both obesity and fatigue, as can heart failure. While most cases of fatigue in obesity are attributable to extra weight, it’s advisable to rule out other medical causes.

Obesity and Mobility

Obesity also interferes with mobility. Quite simply, extra weight makes movement more difficult and, often, uncomfortable. People who are obese often experience pain in the knees and back due to increased pressure on the joints and vertebrae.

Obese people may have difficulty maneuvering through a world meant for people of “normal” weight. Revolving doors and subway turnstiles can become difficult obstacles. Airplane seats and washrooms are tight and uncomfortable places for most people, but especially so for the overweight. Such obstacles can cause anxiety and embarrassment.

Weight-Related Mobility Problems in the Elderly

Obesity-related mobility problems tend to increase with age. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology (2009) examined the connection between obesity and mobility problems in the aged.

The study focused on U.S. adults aged 70 to 79 years. Participants’ current weights were used, as well as recollected weights at ages 25 and 50. While recollected weights were, by necessity, approximations, the study noted that men and women who reported being overweight or obese at all three time periods were more likely to have mobility problems compared to people of normal weight.

On the surface, this may appear self-evident: Obesity and mobility problems often occur together. The main point of the study, however, is that being overweight or obese early in life increases the risk of mobility problems later in life.


Henderson, R. (2009). Obesity. Retrieved June 2, 2010, from http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/health_advice/facts/obesity.htm.

Houston, D. K., Jingzhong, J. Nicklas, B. J. , Harris, T. B., Lee, J. S. Nevitt, M. C., …