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face="Times New Roman">Study Documents
Obesity and Its Association with Heart Risk
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Obesity rates
appear high in most but not all ethnic groups in the
United
States
,
and extra weight is associated with cardiovascular risk factors and markers of
subclinical heart disease, according to a report in a recent issue of the
Archives of Internal Medicine.


The
United
States
,
along with many other countries, is experiencing an epidemic of obesity,
according to background information in the article. Between 1960 and 2000, rates
of obesity increased from 11% to 28% in men and 16% to 34% in women. The
obesity epidemic has the potential to reduce further gains in the
style="FONT-SIZE: 10pt">U.S.style="FONT-SIZE: 10pt"> life expectancy, largely through an effect on
cardiovascular disease mortality, the authors wrote.


Gregory L. Burke,
MD, MS, of Wake Forest University School of Medicine in
style="FONT-SIZE: 10pt">Winston-Salemstyle="FONT-SIZE: 10pt">, style="FONT-SIZE: 10pt">N.C.
style="FONT-SIZE: 10pt">, and colleagues assessed
data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), which involved 6,814
individuals aged 45 to 84 who did not have cardiovascular disease when the study
began (2000 to 2002). Participants completed a standard questionnaire with
information about demographics and health risk factors and also underwent
testing for various cardiovascular disease markers.

A large proportion
of white, African American and Hispanic participants were overweight (60% to
85%) and obese (30% to 50%), while fewer Chinese American participants were
overweight (33%) or obese (5%), the authors wrote. A higher body mass index
was associated with more adverse levels of blood pressure, lipoproteins
[cholesterol] and fasting glucose despite a higher prevalence of pharmacologic
treatment.


Obesity was also
associated with the following risk factors for heart disease and
stroke:


a 17% greater
risk of coronary artery calcium, which may be a marker for coronary artery
disease;
a 45% greater risk of having artery walls thicker than the 80th
percentile in the common carotid arteries, which is a marker for
atherosclerosis; and
a 2.7-fold greater risk of having a left ventricle
with a mass higher than the 80th percentile.


These data
confirm the epidemic of obesity in most but not all racial and ethnic groups,
the authors concluded. The observed low prevalence of obesity in Chinese
American participants indicates that high rates of obesity should not be
considered inevitable. These findings may be viewed as indicators of potential
future increases in vascular disease burden and health care costs associated
with the obesity epidemic.


Source:
American Medical Association


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