Yet another incentive to drop slim down: Less exposure to radiation during diagnostic scans. Obesity is already linked to a litany of ailments —  heart disease, diabetes, cancer, dementia and osteoarthritis. Should one of these conditions cause an obese patient to require a CT scan, the increased radiation needed to penetrate layers of fat might in turn increase chances of DNA mutation, and thus possibly cancer.

A study published in Physics in Medicine found that obesity not only blurred image quality — making it more difficult to correctly diagnose diseases in deep organs (e.g., liver, stomach, pancreas) — but also required 57% higher overall radiation to enhance image quality. Over the past 15 years, rising obesity has doubled the number of inconclusive radiology results. As Dr. Dushyant Sahani, a Boston radiologist, observed: “Due to obesity, one has to customize the dose based on patient size and increase the power and quantity of the x-rays going inside the patient.”

Moreover, when in the hospital, obese patients have more than double the risk of infection, compared to those of normal weight. The greater infection rates may help explain why gastric bypass surgery is not necessarily a risk-free weight-loss strategy. The best path to slimming down: More fruit and vegetables, which fill you up with their high fiber and water content, while higher nutrient density helps you avoid deficiencies that might prompt cravings.

Published November 5, 2012