Fat cells do a lot more than provide storage space for extra energy. They release a variety of chemicals (hormones and proteins) that send messages around the body to regulate metabolism and appetite, the storage and use of energy, the immune system, and even affecting blood pressure, and our reproductive system.
Fat cells are crucial to our survival and to our good health. But unfortunately, their complex system of chemical excretion and regulation can go wrong when we gain too much weight.
Fat cells produce chemicals called cytokines. These chemicals are involved in inflammatory response in the body. Some kinds increase the inflammatory response , they are pro-inflammatory. Fat cells producing pro-inflammatory cytokines is associated with insulin resistance, and high blood pressure. High blood pressure means increased risk for stroke and heart disease and more.
A recent study suggested that the longer that you are overweight or obese, (an excess BMI duration) the more likely you are to develop type 2 diabetes.
If excess fat just meant tight jeans or a different body shape, and being overweight was only a problem of aesthetics, then overweight would be benign. The trouble is that there are many serious health problems that can arise from excess fat.
The list of serious health problems due to excess fat :
- Coronary heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Dyslipidemia (for example, high total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides)
- Liver and Gallbladder disease
- Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
- Osteoarthritis (a degeneration of cartilage and its underlying bone within a joint)
- Gynecological problems (abnormal menses, infertility)
Why do we gain extra weight?
There are many factors that make us gain weight. Our environments, the advertising we are bombarded with, the types of food that are easily available to us, the amount of exercise we do, the amount of stress we are under. There are even chemicals and pollutants that affect weight gain. See this interesting summary for more information.