Being obese increases a woman’s risk of heart disease by a whopping 64 percent — compared to just 46 percent in men.
Worse yet, carrying excess pounds can initiate other major coronary risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Obesity also contributes to metabolic syndrome, a condition in which multiple risk factors working together accelerates heart disease risk.
Contrary to popular belief, excess fat is not inert. Rather, it releases harmful hormones and
chemicals that cause chronic inflammation, which is increasingly seen as the initiator of heart disease. Obesity is such a serious problem in America that the government recently issued new national guidelines that call for doctors to focus on helping patients lose weight when they come for regular office visits.
The new guidelines appeal to doctors to:
- Evaluate whether or not a patient is overweight.
- Prescribe a diet based on the patient’s risk factors.
- Prescribe exercise and lifestyle change recommendations.
- Prescribe weight-loss drugs, but only in concert with lifestyle and behavioral change. (The guidelines note that drugs alone are unlikely to produce permanent weight loss. I agree with that assessment.)
- Recommend weight-loss surgery for patients with a BMI of 40 or higher, or 35 and up when accompanied by severe risk factors.
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