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Obesity Determined a Disease

 

by the Go Red For Women Editors

AHA Supports Additional Focus on Obesity and Heart Disease, Stroke Risk

 The American Medical Association has announced the organization has designated obesity as a disease, requiring treatment and prevention efforts.

The American Heart Association believes the additional focus is needed on this important risk factor for heart disease and stroke. The AHA works with individuals, industry and healthcare professionals and national, state and local governments to recognize the severity of the issue and the need for more coordinated and comprehensive solutions.

Obesity is defined as a body mass index of 30 or higher. Over one-third (33.7 percent) of U.S. adults are obese (nearly 75 million adults) and about 12 million (16.9 percent) of U.S. children ages 2 to 19 are obese. Nearly one in three (31.7 percent) U.S. children (23,500,000) ages 2 to 19 are overweight or obese.

“Obesity is mainly caused by taking in more calories than are used up in physical activity and daily life, but other factors may also contribute to obesity including genetics, limited access to healthy foods or unsafe environment for physical activity,” says Donna Arnett, Ph.D., president of the American Heart Association. “When people eat too many calories, or too much saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, their blood cholesterol levels often rise. But even taking off a few pounds can provide you with cardiovascular benefits, so every step in the right direction is a step toward healthier living.”

If you have too much fat — especially around your waist — you’re at higher risk for health problems.  Specifically, obesity:

  • Raises blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • Lowers HDL “good” cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is linked with lower heart disease and stroke risk, so reducing it tends to raise the risk
  • Raises blood pressure levels
  • Can induce diabetes. In some people, diabetes makes these other risk factors much worse. The danger of heart attack is especially high for these people.

When your weight is in a healthy range your body more effectively circulates blood, your fluid levels are more easily managed, and you are less likely to develop diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers and sleep apnea. The American Heart Association and Go Red For Women can help you get there. 

To determine your risk for heart disease and stroke, visit http://www.mylifecheck.org/ and learn how you can lower your risk.

Learn expert advice on healthy living, including heart-healthy recipes and exercises on Go Red For Women.