Consequences of over nutrition

1. Obesity

Obesity is a pathological condition characterised by an accumu­lation of fat much more than is necessary in the body. This form of over-nutrition is more common in developed countries. The degree of obesity can be assessed by comparing the patient’s weight with tables of standard weights for heights. A man whose body fat amounts to more than 20% of his total weight is considered obese. For a woman it is 30% and above.

Obesity which makes a person bulky and over-weight may be a result of genetic, endocrine and behavioural factors. Apart from genetic factors, hypo or lowered activity of the pituitary, thyroid and gonads lead to decreased secretion of hormones of these endocrine glands which results in obesity. Behavioural factors like eating, sleeping and activity are generally responsible for the regulation of body weight. Over-consumption of carbohydrate foods, concentrated high-clorie foods like fried foods coupled with inactivity and over­sleep make a person prone to obesity. Emotionally disturbed individuals who feel lonely often find consolation and pleasure in over-eating. Emotional trauma is associated with such over-eating. An obese person is self-conscious and, therefore, may develop psychological problems.


Obesity is a disease of civilisation. The provision for storing excess energy as fat was a useful biological mechanism for primitive man who could not get a steady supply of food. He over-ate when food was available and starved when it was not. This was the pattern even in civilised societies until recently as feast days were often preceded by fast days. Now the fasts have gone, but not the feasts. What is more, in affluent countries one can have feasts everyday if one chooses to. Food has become plentiful for people who need it less. In developed countries the over-consumption of food coupled with labour-saving devices, which reduce physical activity has become a major problem.

In addition to psychological and emotional disturbances, obesity often leads to social humiliation and other complications. The human skeleton is not adapted to carrying of an extra load and this may lead to flat-feet, problems with the knees, hip and lumbar spine. The work of the heart is increased owing to the extra energy, needed to move the over-weight body.

Obese people are more prone to diabetes, tuberculosis, cardiovascular irregularities, hypertension, arthritis and respiratory problems. Normal heat loss by the skin tends to be restricted and there is excessive perspiration often leading to rashes and inflammation of the skin.

Vitamins A and D toxicosis is commonly observed in the obese. Children of young mothers suffer from toxicoses when given large doses of vitamin drops.


Obesity increases the risk of complications during surgery, preg­nancy and childbirth. Obese women appear to be more prone to menstrual irregularities and infertility. There is impaired glucose tolerance and in many cases, hyper-glycaemia leads to diabetes.

Obesity is more common in men and women after the age of about 30 years and could be associated with the reduction in Basic Meta­bolic Rate and inactivity apart from other factors mentioned earlier. Every kilogram increase in weight is liable to increase the workload of the heart up to five kilometers.

2. Hyper-Vitaminosis A

Excessive amounts of Vitamin A administered to children from early infancy can result in many complications. Dry itchy skin, hyper­irritability, painful swelling of the extremities accompanied with limping, refusal to stand, thickening of long bones, occasional enlargements of spleens are the common symptoms. Among adults it causes lethargy, fatigue, general weakness, insomnia, constipation, nail changes, bone and joint pain.


3. Hyper-Vitaminosis D

Excessive amounts of Vitamin D are potentially dangerous to children and adults. Symptoms of hypervitaminosis D are nausea, vomiting, fatigue, drowsiness, headache, and constipation, occasional bouts of fever, hypertension and renal damage, calcium deposition in large blood vessels, increased serum calcium and phosphorus, higher concentration of calcium in spine, facial paralysis and anaemia.

4. Over-load of Iron

Over-intake of iron leads to a condition called haemosiderosis (large deposits of iron in the liver). This causes constipation, diarrhea, heart-bum, nausea, epigastri pain, dizziness and Vomiting.