What Are Secondary Conditions?
A secondary condition is broadly defined as any medical, social, emotional, mental, family or community problem that a person with a primary disabling condition is likely to experience. Diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and cancer are often linked to overweight and obesity. While it is true that these secondary conditions can occur even in the case of someone of normal weight, research shows that the risk of these conditions is often higher for people who are overweight or obese.
Type 2 diabetes (noninsulin-dependent), previously considered an adult disease, has increased dramatically in children and adolescents. Overweight adolescents have a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight or obese adults. According to the CDC, about 19 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes, accounting for more than 90 percent of diabetes cases. An additional 20 million have pre-diabetes (blood glucose levels that are higher than normal), which is a strong risk factor for developing diabetes later in life. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases estimates that 70 percent of diabetes risk can be attributed to excess weight.
As overweight and obesity have increased in the U.S., so have related healthcare costs both direct and indirect. These costs are often related to the treatment of secondary conditions that accompany increased weight. Most studies also show an associated increase in mortality rate. About 300,000 deaths each year in the U.S. are associated with obesity. Obese people have a 50 to 100 percent increased risk of death compared to normal-weight individuals. Most of the increased risk is due to cardiovascular causes.