The Health Risks of Fat
11 tips to help you nix the fat.
By Jeanie Lerche Davis
Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD
Fat, particularly fat around your waist, raises your risk of serious illness. Do you need motivation to lose excess pounds? Consider these 11 tips.
Lose Weight: It's a Lifesaver
Are you a heart attack waiting to happen? If heart disease, high blood pressure, or high triglycerides are in your family (or personal) history, losing weight can change that. You can greatly cut your risk of serious health problems by dropping the extra pounds.
You're Not Alone
Two-thirds of all Americans are overweight; one-third of them are obese. It's created an epidemic of high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), heart disease, heart-related deaths -- plus strokes anddiabetes. Also, many types of cancer have been linked with obesity.
Fat Hurts Your Heart
Every major system in your body feels the stress of excess weight. The heart is the most obvious victim -- as cholesterol builds, blood pressure rises, and arteries get clogged. Also, the blood loses its ability to clot which increases stroke risk.
Fat Ups Male Hormones
Overweight women have higher levels of male hormones, which ups their risk of heart disease. Those hormones also cause male pattern balding, some excess facial hair, and acne.
Fat Triggers Diabetes
Excess weight affects another hormone -- insulin -- which leads to diabetes. Having diabetes increases your heart disease risk. It's a vicious circle.
Fat Ruins Sleep
Overweight people often suffer from sleep disorders. The most dangerous is sleep apnea. With sleep apnea, you stop breathing many times during the night. This makes your oxygen level drops-- which affects the heart, blood vessels, stroke risk, and diabetes risk.
Fat Wrecks Hips, Knees
The sheer impact of excess weight on your lower body creates lots of problems. You're at higher risk for bone-thinning osteoporosis. You develop hip and back problems. Overweight children will develop fragile bones, so they're at even higher risk for these problems.
Start Now: Lose Weight
Diet changes and exercise -- that's what it takes to lose weight. You've got to make lifestyle changes that fit into your daily routine.
A healthy breakfast helps jump-start your metabolism. You'll be less hungry at lunchtime!
Running, walking, biking -- all are great types of weight-bearing exercise. They will help you lose weight. Start here: Find time during the day --10 minutes here and there -- for walking. It all counts!
You Can Do This!
It's never too late to lose weight. Plenty of success stories prove it -- you can, too! But diet alone won't do it. To lose weight and keep it off, you've got to exercise, too. Put on your walking or running shoes -- and just do it!
Published May 31, 2007.
SOURCES: CDC. Steven Lamm, MD, NYU School of Medicine. Brunilda Nazario, MD, WebMD Senior Medical Editor. Isadore Rosenfeld, MD, Rossi Distinguished Professor of Clinical Medicine, NYU Weil Cornell Medical Center.
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