Prior research has suggested that obese men who don't have metabolic syndrome are not at higher risk for cardiovascular disease. But a new study published in the journal Circulation suggests that cardiovascular health is compromised in overweight and obese men, even if they don't have metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of three or more of the following risk factors for cardiovascular disease:
Researchers followed nearly 1,800 men for 30 years, beginning at age 50. They tracked how many men died or were hospitalized for heart attack, stroke, or heart failure. They also looked at their weight.
Men of various weight groups were compared with normal-weight men who didn't have metabolic syndrome. Within each weight group, men with metabolic syndrome had a higher risk for major heart problems than men without metabolic syndrome. Risk also increased with higher weight. Among obese men, risk was 95 percent higher in those without metabolic syndrome and 155 percent higher in those with metabolic syndrome.
Although the study accounted for some heart disease risk factors, such as smoking, it did not account for others, such as levels of physical activity.
To find out if you are considered obese, calculate your body mass index (BMI). Your BMI measures your weight relative to your height. To calculate your BMI visit www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/bmicalc.htm.
If you are obese or overweight and have two or more risk factors for heart disease, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute's guidelines recommend weight loss. Risk factors include:
Talk with your doctor if you suspect that you need to lose weight. He or she will calculate your BMI, measure your waist, and talk with you about your other risk factors for heart disease.
Whether you choose to lose weight on your own or through a weight-loss program, these tips can help you take the weight off and keep it off.
Set specific, realistic, and flexible goals. Choose two or three goals to focus on. They could be about getting active, eating better, or any other habits that you want to adopt. For example, "Walk 30 minutes, five days a week."
Reward success often. Encourage your weight loss by planning rewards. Many small rewards for meeting smaller goals are more effective than bigger rewards for goals that are difficult to achieve. Rewards could include going to a movie, buying new music, or taking an afternoon off from work.
Keep track of your behavior. Writing down your behavior can aid your weight loss efforts. Consider keeping track of your exercise, weight loss, or what you are eating. You'll be able to see your progress. It's also a quick way to show your doctor how you are doing.
Always consult your physician for more information.
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If you've been putting on weight, you might want to tell your friends and family to watch out. New research indicates that you're more likely to become obese if you see your friends and family gain weight.
For example, if you have a sibling who becomes obese, your risk for obesity goes up 40 percent. If it's a close friend who puts on excess weight, your risk increases 57 percent. Same-sex friends and relatives have more influence on a person's weight gain than friends of the opposite sex. And it doesn't matter if your friend or relative lives next door or across the country. The closeness of the relationship is more influential than the physical distance between people.
Researchers think that obesity can spread like this because people begin to accept obesity when they see it in their own friends and family.