In the US, obesity is a common disease with increasing prevalence. The latest CDC data suggests that over 42% of US adults are living with obesity — a 12% increase from 2000.1
Body Mass Index, or BMI, is a simple and inexpensive measurement that expresses a person’s weight in kilograms divided by their height in meters. Though it doesn’t encompass the full picture of someone’s health or even their body fat, it is commonly used by researchers and healthcare professionals as a screening tool. Obesity is a complex disease, so it’s important to understand its nuances and risk factors.
How obesity impacts heart health
Obesity presents its own set of risk factors, and many of these are related to its negative impact on heart health. Obesity can affect the heart in the following ways:
Obesity may change cholesterol levels, causing an increase in triglycerides (a type of fat found in your blood) and bad cholesterol (LDL) while also reducing good cholesterol (HDL). These changes may increase your risk of heart disease.2
The largest risk factor for type 2 diabetes is obesity. And for those with a BMI higher than 35, the risk of developing diabetes is 93% higher. In women, having diabetes doubles the risk of developing heart disease.3
Obesity may cause increased blood pressure (hypertension), which is a common cause of heart attack.2
Johns Hopkins researchers have found that for every five-point increase in BMI, the risk of heart failure rises by 32%.4