Obesity and Heart Disease - What are the Risks?

Earlier this year I filmed a TV segment discussing the heart-health risks of being overweight, with an emphasis placed on the risks of excess visceral fat. Visceral fat is the fat that is located inside the abdomen and gives people an “apple-shaped” body. It’s been accepted that people with increased abdominal fat are at a higher risk of developing heart problems, but a new international study is showing this may not be the case. The study suggests that all body fat, regardless of location, has the potential to increase the risk of heart disease. This study further reports that while body fat and fat location are important risk factors, it is much more imperative to consider a patient’s cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and history of diabetes when assessing their potential for heart disease. Simply put, it is important to examine the entirety of the patient’s medical history, not just body fat location. This principle also applies to prostate cancer - using a single measurement as an overall indicator of a person’s health is not an adequate way of making a diagnosis.

This all ties into something else that I stress: the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle. Being overweight is linked to so many diseases, including the development of cancer, that it’s in everyone’s best interest to really put in the effort to take care of themselves and make a change. For many people simply losing the excess weight can lower their risks of high blood pressure and diabetes, and in turn lower their risk of heart disease. Eating a healthier assortment of foods can also lower cholesterol. Our bodies are complex systems, and all of these diseases are interconnected; if we make an effort to address one problem it will decrease the risks of others.

If you are unsure about the best way to address being overweight, start by talking to your primary doctor. They can provide you with numerous resources to help you make healthier food and exercise choices. Initially this may seem like a daunting task, however these lifestyle changes will become second nature with time and will have profound effects on your health for the rest of your life.

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