The Health Risks of Overeating

Regular overeating can lead to a host of health problems.

There are many overeating health risks that can put people who are overweight in danger. Most people eat mindlessly or beyond the level of fullness from time to time, but when overeating becomes a regular thing, weight gain and other health risks are not far behind.

Common Overeating Health Risks

Of course the most common health risk associated with overeating on a regular basis is weight gain. Depending on your weight before the overeating began, becoming severely overweight or obese is a real possibility.

Obesity brings on a whole new world of health problems. However, even those who are overweight, but not yet classified as obese, may have these overeating health risks as well:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Osteoarthritis caused by wearing down of cartilage and bone
  • High trigyceride levels
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Respiratory problems
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Stroke
  • Increased risk of endometrial, breast and colon cancer

The biggest health problems for people who overeat include diabetes, heart disease and strokes.


Type 2 diabetes, or insulin resistant diabetes, used to be known as adult-onset diabetes because it was unheard of for children to develop this disorder. This has changed because so many children are now overweight, therefore the incidence of type 2 diabetes in children is rising.

It's estimated that more than 20 million Americans, or 7 percent of the population, have type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, about 6.2 million of those people do not even know that they have it.

Diabetes interferes with the body's ability to use insulin, and it is necessary to keep the blood sugar under control. This can often be accomplished by eating regular meals and not eating a lot of sugar or refined foods. When this doesn't work, other measures must be taken.

Diabetes can cause even more health problems including:

  • Kidney disease
  • Eye problems or blindness
  • Nerve damage to the feet that can lead to amputation and other nerve disorders
  • Skin problems
  • Delayed gastric emptying

In addition, diabetes can lead to depression and an increased risk of heart attacks and cardiovascular problems.

Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease is a big overeating health risk. Being overweight, having diabetes and having high cholesterol and high blood pressure are all risk factors for the disorder, in which arteries that supply blood to the heart become narrowed.

Coronary artery disease is the root cause behind a number of heart problems, including angina, heart attacks, heart failure and irregular heart beats. About 15 millions people have coronary artery disease, and it caused more than 450,000 deaths in 2004, making it the leading killer in America.


Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the United States. They occur when a blood clot blocks an artery or a blood vessel breaks, interrupting blood flow to part of the brain. Brain cells die and brain damage begins immediately.

Depending on where in the brain the stroke occurs, it may affect memory, movement or speech. A small stroke may only cause weakness in a limb, but a major stroke can paralyze the person of leave them unable to speak.

Again, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and excessive weight are all risk factors for strokes. All of these health risks go hand-in-hand when it comes to overeating.

When Overeating is Compulsive

Some people eat to excess regularly because they enjoy eating and don't stop when they should. For other people, overeating is a compulsion that brings on additional health risks.

Compulsive overeaters can eat thousands of calories at a sitting. Often, they characterize their relationship with food as an addiction that they use to hide from emotional problems.

Sometimes overeating is linked with an eating disorder such as bulimia. People who overeat in this way often eat little in front of other people and then binge in private.

All of the same overeating health risks are there for compulsive eaters, but the emotional component must be addressed in order to have weight loss success. If you are a compulsive overeater, consider getting professional help from an eating disorder specialist or visiting a local Overeaters Anonymous meeting.

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The Health Risks of Overeating