Obesity responsible for one third of coronary heart disease cases

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By David Liu, PHD

Saturday Sept 22, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- A new study in the journal Obesity suggests that obesity is responsible for one third of all coronary heart disease cases in both men and women in the United States.

Alan J. Flint of Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts conducted the study and found men who had obesity were twice as likely as those who had a normal body weight to develop coronary heart disease.

Also in women with obesity, the researchers found the risk of coronary heart disease was increased by 2.5 times, compared to those who had a normal body weight.

In the study, obesity is defined as having a body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or higher whereas a normal body weight as having a BMI of 18.5 to 22.9 kg/m2.

The associations were derived from data from 42,351 men aged 39 to 75 years at the time of enrollment in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and 76,703 women aged 39 to 65 year at the beginning of the Nurses' Health Study.

During the follow-up of over 16 years, a total of 2,771 incident cases of coronary heart disease among the men and 2,359 among the women were identified. 

The researchers also found the risk of coronary heart disease  increased with BMI, regardless of the presence of comorbid conditions.

This study was not intended to reveal how obesity increases risk of coronary heart disease.  Obesity is caused by an inadequate diet although other factors may also be associated with excessive weight such as physical activity.   Coronary heart disease also has something to do with a person's diet. It is likely that the association between obesity and coronary heart disease is at least partially mediated by the foods men and women eat.

Obesity prevention

Obesity is hard to prevent for many people.  This is so because diet as part of a person's lifestyle is hard to change.  For those who are able to modify their diets, obesity is easy to prevent.

Here are a few things that are important in preventing obesity.

1) Stop eating processed food.   Processed food can contain trans fat, high fat and high sugar which boost the risk of obesity;  Processed food can also contain many undesirable ingredients which are harmful to your health;
2) Use low salt. Using too much salt in your diet can increase your intake of calories, that is, you tend to eat more if your meal is highly palatable.  Salt is the most important ingredient you can use to increase the taste of a food.  
3) Prepare meal yourselves. This allows you to control what you eat.  Avoid or reduce use of added sugar and cooking oil in the dishes you are preparing.   If you can do this, you will surely lose weight.  To minimize intake of oil, you also need to limit your intake of natural but oily foods like peanuts and walnuts.
4) Use spices.  Reduced use of salt and avoidance of cooking oil can drastically increase the palatability of the food you prepare.  To compensate this, you may use some spices.
5) Eat dinner early and don't eat anything after dinner.  Your stomach as part of you needs to sleep as you do.  Eating after dinner or eating dinner too late can increase risk of gastric cancer.
6) Control calorie intake from dinner and eat only food that is easy to digest and avoid meat at dinner.  Eating lots of calories at dinner can be a huge mistake.  Almost all you eat will have to be converted to body weight.  To control calorie intake, eat as slowly as you can and eat more fibrous foods.
7) Do not eat at restaurant often.   The biggest concern about eating at restaurant is trans fat and high sugar.
8) Eat lots of green leafy vegetables and whole grains.  Cut intake of meat and dairy products.  Eat only moderate amounts of fruits only.

If you can follow this advice, chances are good that you can prevent obesity.  A healthy diet can not only help prevent obesity, but also many if not all chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

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