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I’m a big guy and I sweat profusely, even in winter which is quite embarrassing at times. It’s lead me to wonder whether overweight people sweat more due to their body size or whether its something simply to do with my genetic makeup.
Like how some people get eaten alive by mosquitoes and others are lucky to get the attention of a single mosquito. Fortunately, I’m one of the lucky ones and mosquitoes don’t seem to find me appealing. Maybe I sweat too much?.
If a survey were to be taken right now, the majority of the people would say that they don’t like sweating, including myself. Though scientifically useful to the body, some people consider it a turn off. While others embrace sweat as a sign of losing weight. However, there is normal sweating and then there is excessive sweating. So is there any correlation between being obese and sweating a lot?.
Obesity & Excessive Sweating
To question whether excessive sweating and obesity has any connection at all cannot be correctly answered if you don’t understand why the body needs to sweat in the first place. First, you need to realize that it’s not like any other unprompted excretions that you think you can do without.
When your body overheats, it releases sweat to act as a coolant – you might suffer a heat stroke if the excess heat is not cooled off. Where a car uses a radiator to cool down, our body uses its own built in device, sweat, to keep us operating at a safe temperature.
When it comes to excessive sweating, I believe there are so many reasons why you might be experiencing it. For instance, if you are obese, excess weight could be the culprit for your excessive sweating. But in saying that I too use to sweat a lot when I wasn’t obese many moons ago.
But does being overweight now mean that I will sweat even more?. That is the question I indeed seek to find the answer for. Through my research I have compiled a list of reasons why an obese person might be over heating causing us to sweat more.
In general its considered that yes us overweight or obese people tend to sweat more than someone with a healthy BMI. This does not include every overweight person of course, but a good percentage of us do.
This is to do with the extra layers of fat or insulation as I like to call it that is present under our skin. During winter this layer of insulation is certainly one of the main advantages to being overweight, but in summer its a killer.
Compared to a skinnier person with less layers of fat, our bodies tend to feel warmer. So when its already a stinking hot summer’s day and our bodies are quite warm as it is, more sweat is produced to keep us from over heating to deal with these high temperatures.
Causes Of Excessive Sweating
Does Obesity Cause Hyperhidrosis
This is a medical condition and one of the most common causes to make the body sweat more than required. It is a severe condition as the body excretes more than four times the needed sweat. No specific situation triggers this condition as it can occur anytime anywhere. The condition can affect the whole body, or individual body parts like armpits, forehead, feet or the palm of your hands.
So does obesity cause Primary Hyperhidrosis or PHH for short?. It’s easy to point the finger at obesity for excessive sweating, but does this mean it is the major cause of PHH?. Hyperhidrosis is a serious medical condition and according to this study found on NCBI, there is little evidence to suggest the connection between obesity and Primary Hyperhidrosis for teens to young adults.
However the study does go onto to state that obese people have double the chance of developing late onset Hyperhidrosis. Which basically means if you’re middle aged or older and obese, there’s a better chance of this condition affecting you.
Should this concern you if you’re overweight and middle aged?. Well a study from a few years back stated that in the USA, 2.8% of people had this condition. While you may feel its a small percentage, its still over 8 million people.
Obesity & Number of Sweat Glands
An average person has 2-3 million sweat glands. This varies from one individual to another, and the difference may be due to genetics. If you are training with your friend, do not be depressed if you see them sweat more and think that you are not burning as many calories as them. This might be because they have more sweat glands than you do.
So Does That Mean Obese People Have More Sweat Glands?
While men and women basically have the same number of sweat glands, men just sweat more, does an obese person have more sweat glands due to having more skin. This question got me thinking and researching.
Also, per square inch, are the number of sweat glands the same as a ‘healthy BMI’ person, or are our sweat glands just spread out more over a larger space?.
Well according to some very old research it is said that the number of sweat glands per person don’t change after we turn 2 years old. So according to my logic, the number of sweat glands per square inch for an obese person does not increase, rather they are spread out more.
Which to me says that our bodies get hotter due to insulation and not enough sweat glands per square inch to keep us cooler. Resulting in the sweat glands having to produce excessive sweat to make up for the extra skin and insulation. But then again, I’m no scientist.
Sweat What You Eat
I agree with the common saying that you are what you eat. Alcoholic drinks, foods with a lot of sodium, caffeinated drinks, and chili foods are just some examples of foods that trigger excessive sweating during eating.
This happens to both obese and normal weight people. But if your eating foods that make you obese, there’s a good chance that you’re encouraging excessive sweat through the food you eat.
For instance, chili foods tend to send a message to the body that it is getting hot and so the body releases sweat to cool it down. But this is more of a clear cut example of how food can cause you to sweat more.
Stress And Anxiety
Some people get sweaty when they are caught up in stressful situations, or they feel anxious about something. A good example would be when one is about to make a speech or presentation for the first time or to an audience which intimidates them. This triggers the sweat glands, and the individual starts to sweat. This kind of sweat in ordinary as it is how the body responds psychologically to psychological stress.
But according to a very recent study in Sweden, of 12000 obese teenage participants, over 30% of them developed anxiety and even depression during the 4 year study. So obesity can lead to anxiety which can cause excessive sweating. If Hyperhidrosis is not prevalent while they are young adults but these people continue into their middle stages of life as obese, they double the chances of late onset Hyperhidrosis.
To limit sweating when anxious there are some simple steps to do. Preparing well in advance for what might make you nervous helps. Not only that, you can try to visualize the event ahead and imagine everything working just as you had planned. Guessing what might go wrong only makes the situation worse. Try not to overthink everything, as hard as that is not to do.
Sweat More Than Others During Exercise
When you exercise, your body temperature will start rising. This triggers sweating which might continue long after you have stopped exercising. This is because the body does not cool off and the muscles do not relax immediately. The blood pressure and the heart rate also increase causing more sweat.
However, if you sweat faster and more than what you think is healthy, it’s likely because you’re physically unfit or you are overweight. To control this, make sure you continue to exercise more to try and achieve physical fitness. Easier said than done I know, but every step on a big man’s treadmill counts towards a healthier future.
Hormonal change is mainly witnessed by boys and girls undergoing puberty, pregnant women and ladies between the ages 45-55 who are experiencing menopause. In the these cases, the change in hormonal levels makes one feel hot at times triggering the sweat glands to release sweat.
Body’s Reaction To Heat
During the hot seasons, your body will tend to heat up more. This is not late breaking news, but still relevant to why you may be sweating more. Don’t be alarmed if you sweat more than your less overweight friend during this time.
It might be because you have more sweat glands. Actually the more you sweat, the faster you cool. I believe in this case you have a greater advantage than your friends so long as you have ruled out all the medical reasons such as hyperhidrosis. But this doesn’t change the fact that being overweight and sweating for no reason during summer other than ‘it’s hot’ is less embarrassing. I deal with this on a daily basis unfortunately.
Is That Why Obese People Smell Bad?
So in light of obese people sweating more you may be fooled into thinking that all this extra sweat is the reason for bad body odor. From a personal experience I have noticed that certain types of clothing I wear create a lot more body odor compared to how much I have sweated that day. This has been something I can remember from all the way back to grade school.
But because us heavier people sweat more it’s easy to see why an outsider may think that obese people stink or smell due to excessive sweat. But this is simply not true. In fact, sweat itself is odorless and its the bacteria that goes funky on our skin due to moisture creating a bacteria heaven like environment.
Going back to the classic statement of ‘you are what you eat’, this is true in terms of how bad you smell. Eating certain foods will cause deposits on your skin. Such as garlic, spicy food and onions. So when you sweat and the bacteria has a party, the smell is than mixed with these food deposits. Creating some pretty funky smells.
Reasons You May Smell Bad When You’re Overweight
Overweight and obese people have folds of skin. This fold in the skin is a bacteria haven and can lead to being extra smelly. A condition of diabetes also produces a fruity like smell and with the connection between obesity and diabetes there’s a good chance of this smell being thrown in the mix.
A recent study on the sense of smell has revealed some interesting finds in regards to an overweight person. According to this study, people that are obese have less of a sense of smell. Now this study goes on about how this can lead to eating bad foods to satisfy the other senses.
But I see it as another reason us heavier people may come across as smelling worse. If our sense of smell has been dulled down, isn’t there a good chance we can’t smell our body odor as proficiently as others can?. This would lead to less action taken to counter the bad smelling body odor. So it’s plausible if you ask me.
Reducing How Much You Sweat
If you are undergoing any of sweat that is concerning you make sure that you wear light clothes, most preferable cotton ones and take showers regularly to maintain good personal hygiene to mainly cool the body. Among others, the following will help you reduce sweating as well.
- Staying physically fit
- Eating and drinking foods and beverages that don’t make you sweat
- Taking 1 or 2 showers daily. Don’t overdo it tho as your body still needs its natural oils.
- Visiting your doctor to ensure that there are no underlying medical conditions
- Avoiding hot areas
- Using antiperspirants
All the above reasons for sweating have explained why some obese people sweat more in different situations. But do keep in mind these are not only limited to obese people. However, in any given case, an obesity person will tend to sweat more. This is because the fat under the skin tends to act as an insulator. The fat insulation causes the body to feel hotter which causes one to sweat more.
Sweating is crucial to how the body works. So if you are concerned be sure to visit your doctor and stay on top of your personal hygiene as best you can. At the end of the day there is no 100% way to stop the smell of sweating, bacteria and sweat is essential to our bodies.