Pair Of Studies Add Evidence To Link Between Obesity, Poor Health
November 12, 2013

Pair Of Studies Add Evidence Of Link Between Obesity, Poor Health

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Overweight people face an increased risk of heart attack and ischemic heart disease (IHD), even in the absence of other risk factors, and older obese women face an increased risk of death, chronic disease and mobility issues prior to the age of 85, according to a two new studies appearing in Monday’s edition of the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

In the study "Obesity and Late-Age Survival Without Major Disease or Disability in Older Women," Eileen Rillamas-Sun of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC) in Seattle, and colleagues studied more than 36,000 women with an average age of 72 to determine whether or not higher body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) decreased the odds that they could live to age 85 without major health issues.

Nineteen percent of the women were classified as healthy, while 14.7 percent had prevalent disease, 23.2 percent had incident disease, 18.3 percent had a mobility disability (using crutches, a walker or a wheelchair or had a limited ability to walk) and 24.8 percent died. For the purposes of the study, a healthy BMI was said to be between 18.5 to under 25, while overweight was 25 to under 35 and obese was 30 to over 40.

The analysis revealed that those women who were underweight or obese were more likely to die prior to the age of 85, while those who were overweight or obese faced an increased risk of incident disease and mobility disability.

Furthermore, waist circumference measurements of over 35 inches were also found to be associated with an increased risk of early death, incident disease and mobility disability, the researchers said. Overweight African-American women and obese Hispanic women were also found to have an increased risk of incident disease compared to white women who were overweight or had a WC over 35 inches.

“Having a healthy BMI or WC was associated with a higher likelihood of surviving to older ages without a major disease or mobility disability,” the study authors wrote. “Successful strategies aimed at maintaining healthy body weight, minimizing abdominal fat accretion, and guiding safe, intentional weight loss for those who are already obese should be further investigated and disseminated.”

In the study "Myocardial Infarction and Ischemic Heart Disease in Overweight and Obesity With and Without Metabolic Syndrome," researchers from the Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark found that being overweight or obese increased a person’s risk of myocardial infarction (MI) or ischemic heart disease (IHD), regardless of whether or not a person had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar or other elements of metabolic syndrome.

The authors examined data from over 71,000 participants in a general population study, and during nearly four-years of follow-up, they identified 634 cases of MIs and 1,781 cases of IHDs. In comparison to normal weight people, those who were overweight or obese had an increased risk of MI described as statistically equivalent whether or not those patients also had metabolic syndrome.

“These findings suggest that overweight and obesity are risk factors for MI and IHD regardless of the presence or absence of metabolic syndrome and that metabolic syndrome is no more valuable than BMI (body mass index) in identifying individuals at risk,” the researchers concluded in their study.