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Being Overweight Increases Risk of Heart Disease

Melanie Thomassian Health Pro October 04, 2007
  • It's no secret that being overweight increases our risk for chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. Research suggests that even a small reduction in weight can improve conditions, such as high cholesterol, or blood pressure.

     

    Perhaps you have steadily been gaining weight over the years, or maybe you have always struggled to keep your weight down to a reasonable level. Unfortunately eating just 100 calories a day more than you require, over time, can be enough to shift you from the overweight category, into the obese category.

     

    If this is true of you, you're not alone - many people struggle trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It's worthwhile noting that just preventing further weight gain is an extremely valuable, and worthwhile goal to achieve in itself.

     

    How can you tell if you're overweight?

     

    One way of determining your current health status would be to calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI). You can work out your own score using this BMI Calculator.

     

    The World Health Organisation have defined the BMI classifications as:

     

    • BMI less than 18.4 - underweight
    • BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 - ideal weight
    • BMI between 25 and 29.9 - overweight
    • BMI between 30 and 39.9 - obese
    • BMI over 40 - very obese

     

    If your BMI score is above 25, you should seriously think about losing weight, particularly if you're over 30 years of age.

     

    It's important to note, however that BMI should be interpreted with care. It fails to take into account our body frame, fitness levels, and our ethnicity, amongst other things, therefore is can be an inaccurate measurement.

     

    Another very important factor to consider is your body shape. If you are carrying too much weight around your abdomen, this significantly increases your risk of developing health problems, such as heart disease.

     

    To measure your waist circumference, find the bottom of your ribs, and the top of your hips (for many people this will be your tummy button).

     

     

    For Men:

     

    Waist Circumference

    Heart Disease Risk

    37 inches or more

    Increased risk

    40 inches or more

    Substantially increased risk

     

     

    For Women:

     

    Waist Circumference

    Heart Disease Risk

    32 inches or more

    Increased risk

    45 inches or more

    Substantially increased risk

     

     

    If your BMI and waist circumference measurements have revealed that you need to lose weight, you have taken steps in the right direction - remember knowledge is power, now that you are aware of the problem, you can do something about it!

     

    Start thinking about why you want to lose weight? Maybe it's to improve your health, or to feel better about yourself, or maybe you'd like to feel fitter and have more energy. Whatever the reason, it's good practise to note down these reasons, so that you can remind yourself of what your goals are, if things become difficult.

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    Goal setting is a particularly important exercise for reaching a healthier lifestyle. Over the next few weeks I'll be discussing how to set realistic goals, and why they're so important.

     

    Related Articles:

     

    Waist, Not Weight, Better Indicator of Heart Risk

     

    Find heart healthy recipes and cooking tips on our partner site FoodFit.com

     

    Learn more about lifestyle changes on our partner site MyDietExercise.com