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Obesity And Women Heart

Obesity is defined simply as too much body fat. Your body is made up of water, fat, protein, carbohydrate and various vitamins and minerals. If you have too much fat — especially in your waist area — you're at higher risk for health problems.

Being overweight increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke and your risk of developing diabetes. Excess weight increases the strain on the heart and contributes to high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and much more likely to develop diabetes.

The best weight is determined by the lean body mass (everything but fat) plus just the amount of fat necessary for good health: 10 percent to 18 percent of total body weight for men and 18 percent to 25 percent of total body weight for women. A health professional can estimate your percentage by measuring your body fat with an instrument called a skin fold caliper.

A more common, but less accurate, way to determine your ideal weight is to use standard weight charts based on a person's height and frame. One such chart, the body mass index (BMI), measures weight (in kilograms) divided by height, squared.

Overweighing Risk Factors

Obesity is now recognized as a major risk factor for coronary heart disease, which can lead to heart attack. Some reasons for this higher risk are known, but others are not. For example, obesity

  • Raises blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • Lowers HDL "good" cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is linked with lower heart disease and stroke risk, so reducing it tends to raise the risk.
  • Raises blood pressure levels.
  • Can induce diabetes. In some people, diabetes makes these other risk factors much worse. The danger of heart attack is especially high for these people.

Even when there are no adverse effects on the known risk factors, obesity by itself increases risk of heart disease. It also harms more than just the heart and blood vessel system. It's a major cause of gallstones and can worsen degenerative joint disease.

Obesity is mainly caused by taking in more calories than are used up in physical activity and daily life. When people eat too many calories, or too much saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, their blood cholesterol levels often rise. That raises their risk of heart disease.

Heart health can be affected by body shape, as well as by weight. People whose waists are nearly as large as or larger than their hips have a higher rate of heart disease. So, a good indicator of heart disease risk is simply a waist measurement. If your waist is greater than 40 inches (for men) or greater than 35 inches (for women), your intra-abdominal fat level is too high, increasing your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Benefits of Weight Management

We all know that carrying excess weight can have serious repercussions on our health. But have you stopped to truly consider the benefits of being at a healthy weight? The potential benefits can be found not only in our physical health, but in our mental health, as well.
Some of these benefits include:

  • Reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. Obesity is one of the primary preventable risk factors for developing heart disease. A sustained weight loss of even 5 to 10 kilograms can lower your risk of developing heart disease. Being at a healthy weight, coupled with an exercise program, can help prevent heart disease and stroke by strengthening your heart muscle, lowering your blood pressure, improving your blood flow, and increasing your heart’s working capacity. It can also help raise your HDL (good) cholesterol levels and lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
  • Helps to control blood sugar levels. When the overall body fat is reduced, the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes (noninsulin-dependent) can be greatly reduced or eliminated. In many cases this means that patients can either reduce or no longer need to take medications to help control their diabetes.
  • Lessens your chances of developing certain forms of cancer. Obesity has come into the spotlight in recent years as a risk factor for several types of cancer. The risk of developing breast cancer among post-menopausal women is 50% higher for women who are obese. Among men who are obese, the risk of colon cancer is 40% higher. Obesity is also considered a risk factor for uterine, cervix, ovary, gallbladder and prostate cancers.
  • Relieves stress on your back and joints. Carrying around even a few excess kilograms of weight will lead to extra stress on your back and joints, and may result in discomfort and sometimes debilitating pain. Reducing your weight and maintaining a physical fitness routine will not only lighten the burden on your body’s joints, but it will also help strengthen your supporting muscles and tendons, as well.
  • Increases your energy level. If you are only five kilograms overweight, you might not consider that to be a great deal of weight. But think of those extra pounds in terms of a 5kg bag of potatoes strapped to your waist — it suddenly seems pretty heavy, doesn’t it? Carrying around excess weight can make you feel sluggish and tired.
  • Enhances your own self-esteem. When people are overweight, they often feel embarrassed or uncomfortable in public settings. They may become timid or reclusive, and in many instances, they become depressed. Losing weight allows a person to take pride not only in their accomplishments, but in their improved appearance, as well.

It is not easy to lose weight, but with all of the potential benefits to be gained from being at a healthy weight, it is important that overweight people strive to reduce their size. If you are one of those people, talk to your doctor or dietician to develop an eating and exercise plan that will work best for you.

Losing that Extra Pound

Losing weight has been a lifelong struggle for millions. A word of caution: highly restrictive diets, liquid diets, potions, pills, and other miracle cures generally do not result in long-term weight loss and may be harmful to your health. Most people who lose weight rapidly gain it back within a year.

Permanent weight loss comes from making permanent healthy lifestyle changes. You can lose weight by eating a balanced, low fat, high fiber diet and getting 30 minutes of physical activity daily.

Small, consistent changes, over time, will bring you closer and closer to your ideal weight and can have significant health benefits. Avoid fad or crash diets. Set a realistic goal – aim to reduce your weight by ½kg to 2kg per month. It may not sound much but slow changes make it easier to keep the weight off.

  • Gradually change your eating habits to a heart-healthy dietary pattern
    • Eat more colored vegetables and fruit in place of other foods
    • Eat fewer foods rich in fats, especially butter, meat and dairy fats, deep fried foods, pastries and sweet bakery items
    • Eat fewer foods and drinks rich in added sugars – soft drinks, sweets, desserts and bakery items
    • When occasionally eating high-fat or high-sugar foods, choose small portions
    • Choose breads, cereals and grains and have enough whole grains to feel full
    • Eat plenty of dried peas, beans and fish
  • Increase your physical activity

Try for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity every day of the week. Remember, any physical activity is better than none, so get started now.

If you are having trouble losing weight or are gaining weight over time, talk to your doctor, nurse or health professional about seeing a dietitian.

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