The Potential Health Risks of a High BMI



Excessive weight is a risk factor for numerous health problems and significantly increases the risks of premature death. According to the Global Burden of Disease, obesity caused over 4.7 million deaths worldwide in 2017, making it the 5th leading health risk factor for death.

This, when coupled with the fact that 38.9% of the adult world population was characterized as overweight in 2019, tells us how big of a health risk the world is facing. This is why there has been so much emphasis on maintaining a healthy BMI lately from the health and fitness industry. 

How Is BMI Linked To Weight?

BMI is the measure of a person’s weight in relation to their height. It’s an indicator of the total amount of body fat and is the primary tool used to classify underweight, healthy, overweight, and obese individuals.

Read our blog on An Introduction to BMI to learn more about BMI, why it is important, and how to calculate yours.

What Is a High BMI?

A BMI score of 25 and higher are considered high BMI. People with a BMI score of 25.0 to 29.9 are considered overweight, whereas a BMI of 30 and higher makes them classified as obese.

How Does a High BMI Impact Your Health? 4 Major Health Risks Posed By a High BMI

A large number of research studies have identified and investigated the link between high BMI and health. All of them confirm that having a higher than normal BMI score puts you at an increased risk for many serious health conditions. Here’s the list of major health problems a high BMI can put you at the risk of developing:

  • Type 2 Diabetes

It is common knowledge that being overweight or obese puts you at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. But, you may not know that a BMI score of 30 and above (being obese) makes you 80 times more likely to develop the disease than a person with a BMI lower than 22.

According to an estimate, more than 90% of people with type 2 diabetes are either overweight or obese.

  • Hypertension

Research shows that there is a significant positive relationship between BMI score, body fat percentage, and blood pressure. People who have high BMI scores (are overweight or obese) have an increased risk of developing hypertension than those with normal BMI scores.

  • Heart Disease

It has long been known that being overweight or obese puts extra pressure on your heart, making it work harder by increasing your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. However, researchers from John Hopkins University have found that our (excess) weight is a secondary contributor to heart problems – it can even harm the heart muscles directly. This means that obesity can lead to heart issues and cause heart failure, even in the absence of other risk factors.

According to Chiadi Ndumele, a cardiologist from John Hopkins, “Being obese seems to a solo player associate with a heart injury – that is, regardless of high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and diabetes. Down the road, this can lead to heart failure.”

  • Increased Risk of Depression

Weight and mental health may seem unrelated, but research has shown that there is a connection between the two, and people with high BMI scores are more likely to develop symptoms of depression. According to a systematic review of nine research studies, overweight and obese people are 32% more likely to develop depression than people with a healthy weight.

The Final Word

These are just a few health problems that a higher BMI can cause; there are many more. Excess weight can also lead to osteoarthritis, obstructive sleep apnea, fatty liver disease, coronary artery disease, and stroke.  It has a negative impact on your general well-being. 

Due to all these health complications and an overall lowered sense of wellness that healthcare experts and fitness enthusiasts put a huge emphasis on maintaining a healthy BMI (weight).

Image Credits

Photo by AllGo - An App For Plus Size People on Unsplash