American Medical Association says obesity is a disease

American Heart Association Comment

DALLAS, June 19, 2013 – The American Medical Association has announced the organization has designated obesity as a disease requiring treatment and prevention efforts.

The American Heart Association believes the additional focus is needed on this important risk factor for heart disease and stroke.   We work with individuals, industry, healthcare professionals and national, state and local governments to recognize the severity of the issue and the need for more coordinated and comprehensive solutions.

Obesity is defined as a body mass index of 30 or higher. Over one-third (33.7%) of U.S. adults are obese (nearly 75 million adults) and about 12 million (16.9%) of U.S. children ages 2 to 19 are obese and nearly one in three (31.7%) U.S. children (23,500,000) ages 2 to 19 are overweight or obese.

“Obesity is mainly caused by taking in more calories than are used up in physical activity and daily life, but other factors may also contribute to obesity including genetics, limited access to healthy foods or unsafe environment for physical activity,” says Donna Arnett, Ph.D., president of the American Heart Association. “When people eat too many calories, or too much saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, their blood cholesterol levels often rise. But even taking off a few pounds can provide you with cardiovascular benefits, so every step in the right direction is a step toward healthier living.”

If you have too much fat — especially around your waist — you're at higher risk for health problems.  Obesity

  • raises blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • lowers HDL "good" cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is linked with lower heart disease and stroke risk, so reducing it tends to raise the risk.
  • raises blood pressure levels.
  • can induce diabetes. In some people, diabetes makes these other risk factors much worse. The danger of heart attack is especially high for these people.

When your weight is in a healthy range your body more effectively circulates blood, your fluid levels are more easily managed, and you are less likely to develop diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers and sleep apnea.   The American Heart Association can help you get there.  To determine your risk for heart disease and stroke, visit www.mylifecheck.org and learn how you can lower your risk.

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The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association receives funding mostly from individuals. Foundations and corporations donate as well, and fund specific programs and events. Strict policies are enforced to prevent these relationships from influencing the association’s science content. Financial information for the American Heart Association, including a list of contributions from pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers, is available at www.heart.org/corporatefunding.

Related links:
American Heart Association:
 
Contact:
Tagni McRae (214) 706-1383, tagni.mcrae@heart.org
Julie Del Barto (Broadcast) (214) 706-1330, julie.delbarto@heart.org

 


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