Obesity alone is not a trigger for heart disease

One of the major health problems affecting much of the ‘civilized’ world is obesity, and it’s on the rise both in the U.S. and the UK. The condition has been related to a whole range of ailments, with the most potentially deadly being serious heart disease leading to heart attacks and death. However, a recent study indicates that obesity by itself is not the main cause of increased risk for heart disease.

The study actually confirms prior research results so it’s not a brand new concept, but it puts the emphasis on other factors and may change the way this particular medical condition is approached and treated. Data was collected from 22,000 adults in England and Scotland over a period of about seven years, and the results were published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

According to a principle researcher in the study, Mark Hamer of University College London, the findings show that people who are obese but in good metabolic health are not at greater risk of heart disease than the majority of non-obese people. The risk is greatest, he said, for those with a combination of obesity and poor metabolic health.

Good metabolic health is loosely defined as normal levels of blood sugar and“good” cholesterol (HDL) as well as normal blood pressure and inflammation readings. Obesity is related to body mass index, the ratio of height to weight. A ratio of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered ‘normal’, from 25 to 29.9 is overweight, and 30 or above is obese. This research indicated that metabolic factors have more weight than weight, so to speak, when it comes to the risk of heart disease.

One conclusion to be drawn from this study is that we need to “think more broadly” about the obesity situation, as it is closely tied to other health factors that could be treated with medicines and/or changes in diet and lifestyle.