Obesity: Medical complications

PDF download is not available for Arabic and Urdu languages at this time. Please use the browser print function instead

​Learn how obesity can lead to a range of medical complications.

Key points

  • Obesity leads to a range of short- and long-term medical complications, including heart disease and high blood pressure.
  • Other complications of obesity include diabetes and joint problems.

Obesity carries a range of possible medical complications.​​

Heart disease

Obesity can put children and teens at risk of developing heart disease. This is because a waxy substance called plaque can build up in the arteries, making them narrower. This forces the heart to work harder to pump blood around the body and reduces the flow of blood to the heart muscle.

High blood pressure

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing through the arteries. The more someone weighs, the more blood they need to transport nutrients around their body. As the volume of blood increases, so does the pressure on artery walls, especially if they are already narrowed through plaque build-up.

Sleep apnea

Children and teens who are obese may develop sleep apnea and/or other sleep-related breathing disorders.


Obese children and teens are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes because their bodies are less able to use insulin to control their blood sugar levels. If not managed properly, diabetes can lead to a range of health problems such as kidney disease and blindness.

Musculoskeletal issues

The extra weight associated with obesity can put a lot of pressure on the joints​, leading to musculoskeletal problems in children and teens.​

Last updated: September 12th 2023