Call for obesity action as new links to heart disease emerge
THE risk of dying from heart disease due to being overweight may be much higher than previously thought, research suggested yesterday.
A study published in the British Medical Journal found the negative effects caused by obesity are even greater than has been estimated in the past.
The researchers called for increased efforts to reduce people's weight to prevent them dying from cardiovascular diseases.
Scotland has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world, with about a quarter of adults obese.
The latest study, carried out by Bristol University and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, studied the link between body mass index (BMI) and the risk of death by taking measurements from children and comparing it to the health of their parents.
The reason for using this method is because the BMI of parents could be linked to any illness they suffer, rather than causing the condition itself. For example, someone who has cancer may lose weight.
The BMI of offspring is closely linked to that of their parents, meaning it provides good information to allow researchers to make better comparisons without the other confounding influences which may affect the results.
The study involved information taken from more than a million parent-offspring pairs.
The researchers found a strong link between high BMI in children and parents dying from cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers, as has been shown in other studies.
Unlike other research, the study found no link between having a low BMI and an increased risk of respiratory disease and lung cancer.
But the link to heart-related deaths was much stronger than suggested in previous studies.
Using the father's BMI measurements alone, the risk of heart deaths increased by 45 per cent for every three-point increase in BMI level.
But utilising a measurement adjusted by using the child's BMI, the increased risk was 82 per cent.
For example, if someone's BMI increased from 30 to 33, their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease would increase by 82 per cent.
The researchers said: "These data suggest that the adverse influence of higher BMI and obesity in a population is of greater magnitude than previously thought."
Professor Debbie Lawlor, one of the researchers for the study, said the findings made it even more important that people took action to keep their weight under control.
"The message is that it is even more important than we perhaps thought in the past to manage your weight," she said.
Ellen Mason, a senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said: "The best advice we can take from this study is to try to keep your own weight and that of your children within a normal BMI.
"There are possible implications on health from being either overweight or underweight.
"Teaching our children how to be a healthy weight and physically active is the best Christmas present we can give them this year – as it will last a lifetime."
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: West