Overeating is an obsessive/compulsive disorder which involves fantasies about food and the habit of grazing between meals when the patient is not hungry and periods of eating frenzies called binge eating. Overeating has many dangers because the patient tends to gain weight. Unlike patients with Bulimia patients with obsessive/compulsive overeating do not regurgitate the food after eating but in fact may eat beyond the point of feeling full. They are in particular risk of the following disorders; high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, sleep apnea, major depression, stroke, arthritis, kidney disease amongst others.
High cholesterol leads to atherosclerosis which is the accumulation of fatty material in the walls of the arteries. This can eventually lead to an inflammatory condition in which cells which are for the defense of the body, namely macrophages and platelets, migrate to the area because of the inflammation. This eventually leads to the hardening of the arteries and the formation of plaques. This can further lead to the rupture of an arteries or the formation of a clot which impedes the flow of blood in the vessel. Also the displacement of these plaques can cause the blockage of one of the coronary arteries and lead to stroke or a heart attack.
Heart disease is essentially the impairment of the heart’s ability to pump blood and maintain adequate circulatory perfusion to the tissues of the body. Overeating as we discussed can lead to accumulation of fatty material in the blood vessels including those of the heart. If there is a blockage of one of the coronary arteries, then that area of the heart will not have an adequate blood supply and hence will eventually lead to the death of cells and tissues in that area of the heart. When this happens the cardiac muscles in the affected area will not be able to function and hence a decrease in that area’s pumping contribution to the overall pumping action of the heart. This leads to whats called decreased compliance. If there is a lack of compliance then blood is not adequately pumped through the lungs or from the peripheral vessels that supply the outlying areas of the body like the legs. A condition based on left side heart defect or right heart defect can develop that leads to accumulation of liquid in the lungs or legs.
Hypertension is the increase in blood pressure above whats considered normal levels. Hypertension results from the stiffening of the arteries again due to accumulation of fatty material in the lumen of the blood vessels. The increase pressure also causes an increased pressure in the heart. This can lead to an increase in the size of the heart called hypertrophy of the heart. A large heart due to hypertension does not function as well as a heart of normal size. The large hypertrophied heart does not pump with a force necessary to pump blood around the body. The muscle fibers have been literally stretch out and looses their elastic ability to return to normal size before a pump thus losing their pumping force. This will cause increased tissue fluids called edema and a tendency for the patient to tire easily after a physical task has been initiated.
Sleep apnea is a condition in which while sleeping a patient with this condition will experience during sleep periods of respiratory arrest which may last for short periods but long enough to cause hypoxia, which is basically the lack of oxygen supply to the tissues of the body including principally the brain. Sleep apnea is very frequent in individuals that are overweight and patients that overeat. Sleep apnea is very dangerous because it can eventually lead to a heart condition and is a leading cause of arrhythmia in heart patients.
Major depression can be caused by someone developing a habit that he or she knows to be negative but finds that he or she is caught in a cycle of obsession/compulsiveness , the execution of the act and then periods of extreme guilt. A patient’s body image especially amongst young ladies is very essential to their psychological well-being. Therefore major depression can set in when a patient overeats and gains weight as a result. The excessive increase in body fat may cause the patient to be ridiculed or to experience feelings of low self-worth. Not being able to break a habit can also cause feelings of inadequacy and shame.
Arthritis which is the development of damage to the joints of the body. The principal complaint of patients with arthritis is pain in the joints. Overweight patients are especially vulnerable to this condition because of the extra weight placed on the joints of the knee. This condition does not have a cure but weight loss is essential in alleviating the pain by decreasing the weight on the joints.
Kidney disease may develop in patients with the overeating condition. Again because of the hypertension and increased pressure caused by the atherosclerosis resulting from fat deposition in vessels, the renal vessels are especially susceptible to increased blood pressure and maybe damaged as a result. With the damage of the renal blood vessels then there will be a decrease in the removal of harmful bi-products from the body. With the continuation of this condition it can lead to a condition called ESRD , end-stage renal disease, which is basically irreversible renal disease. The patient will loose the ability to filter harmful products from the body and will have to undergo dialysis or undergo bilateral/unilateral kidney transplant.
So as we can see the dangers of overeating are many and can have very serious consequences for the patient with such a condition.