Monday, January 06, 2014

Body Fat Is Linked To Heart Disease!

Body mass index (BMI) has been used for decades to determine if a person is overweight or obese, which is linked to development of many chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and stroke. BMI is calculated by dividing the weight in kilos by the square of height in meters.

People with normal BMI are usually assumed to be healthy though it might not be true. A person with a normal BMI does not necessarily mean that their body’s ability to process fat and sugar is normal. As indicated by some previous research, people with healthy weight might still carry around too much fat.

The latest study by researchers from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in the United States found new evidence that suggested older adults with a healthy weight but high percentage of body fat were at higher risk of heart disease and death.

Data of a total of 1,528 people who were 70 years old on average and had a normal BMI were analyzed. It was found that 1 in 5 men and nearly 1 in 3 women had a body fat percentage above what is considered healthy. Excess body fat has been associated with a higher risk of diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

Meanwhile, a total of 902 of the participants were found dead during the following 13 years, including 419 who died of cardiovascular disease. There were, however, no differences in how often people with high and normal body fat levels died of any cause. High body fat was defined as levels above 25 percent for men and above 35 percent among women.

In the study, women with excess body fat had a 57 percent higher chance of dying from heart disease within 11 years of their assessments than women with a healthy amount of body fat. On the other hand, men with excess body fat were at greater risk of heart-related death after the 11-year mark.

Researchers also found participants with highest body fat were most likely to have hypertension and metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors that will lead to heart disease and diabetes eventually. The findings were published on November 15, 2013 in ‘The American Journal Of Cardiology’. 

Despite of the criticism, BMI has still been used by doctors because it is easy, practical and affordable. There are more high-tech options available for measuring body fat. For instance, a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scan that can measure fat levels inside the body. But it costs about US$300, which makes it currently clinically impractical.

No comments:

Post a Comment