Recent Theories Regarding Obesity and Fitness Levels

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Obesity Problem

A variety of theories and studies have surfaced over the last few years as to whether obesity is a major health problem in the United States. A new study published in the July edition of Diabetes Care by researchers at the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center looked at both obesity and physical inactivity and found that both were strongly, and independently, related to diabetes and diabetes-related diseases, indicating obesity is indeed a health problem. Further, the study found that the likelihood of having diabetes or related cardiovascular diseases increased with BMI (body mass index) regardless of physical activity levels.

The prevalence of diabetes has increased nearly 50 percent over the last decade, with more than 5 million U.S. adults newly suffering from the disease.

"The objective of this study was to determine the relative prevalence of diabetes and related cardiovascular diseases among overweight and inactive adults in a population representative of the nation," said Patrick Sullivan, PhD, assistant professor of clinical pharmacy at the CU School of Pharmacy and lead researcher for the diabetes study. "What we found was that individuals who are overweight or obese have a higher likelihood of having diabetes and cardiovascular disease even if they are active and appear to be 'fit.' Likewise, individuals who are not physically active have a higher likelihood of having diabetes and cardiovascular disease even if they aren't overweight."

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According to the authors of the study, the burden of diabetes is significant in terms of human and economic costs and is expected to continue to increase in the future. It is of increasing importance to focus national attention on these trends and combat them with weight management and physical activity interventions, the authors said.

Sullivan added that the maintenance of weight loss through diet and physical activity reduces the incidence of type 2 diabetes in higher-risk individuals by 40 to 60 percent over three to four years.

The study used self-reported information from a survey of the U.S. population.

The University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center is one of three campuses in the University of Colorado system.

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