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If Overweight Women Give Up Fitness They Will Risk Heart Disease

Harold Mandel's picture
An overweight woman

It often seems hopeless to attempt to maintain good health for middle aged women with weight problems. The weight problem itself often appears so intractable some overweight women seem to give up trying to stay healthy. However, overweight women should not give up on efforts to reach for better health. New research shows staying physically active can help overweight women avoid heart disease.

Researchers pursued a study of the natural history of progression from a metabolically benign overweight/obese state to an at-risk overweight/obese state reported the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. It has been felt an improved understanding along these lines could help clinicians focus on controlling risk factors which predispose an obese person to progression.

Progression from metabolically benign to an at-risk overweight/obese phenotype is seen with increasing obesity and the presence of cardiometabolic abnormalities. It has been observed that physical activity is the only lifestyle factor which is protective against progression from metabolically benign to the at-risk overweight/obese phenotype. An overweight/obese phenotype is strongly associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

Clearly, physical activity can help protect overweight women from being hit with heart disease reports Albert Einstein College of Medicine. According to a study which followed about 900 women for seven years for middle-aged women who are overweight or obese and who are otherwise healthy, physical activity may be their best option for avoiding heart disease. The authors of this study are from Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center, the University Hospital for Einstein.

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Lead author Unab Khan, M.B.B.S., M.S., assistant professor of pediatrics and of family and social medicine at Einstein and attending physician, pediatrics at Montefiore, has pointed out that being overweight or obese increases the risk for someone to develop conditions such as hypertension, elevated triglyceride levels and elevated fasting glucose levels. All of these are risk factors for heart disease which is the leading cause of death in the U.S. Khan has gone on to say that with about two out of every three American women overweight or obese it is vital to find practical ways to help keep them healthier.

The primary goal of the study was to identify factors which may influence overweight and obese women to fall into the "at-risk overweight/obese" category. It was determined that low-to-moderate physical activity at the beginning of the study and during the study was the only lifestyle factor which was found to protect overweight/obese women from progressing to being at-risk for heart disease.

Specifically it was observed that women who participated in physical activity during the course of the study were 16 percent less likely to become at-risk for heart disease in comparison with women who were not physically active. The findings from this study suggest that physical activity may be able to prevent overweight women from developing heart disease even when they have risk factors for the illness.

The obesity epidemic is clearly very serious. In view of the widespread nature of the obesity problem and difficulties in controlling this serious condition in women it is clearly very important to determine manners to keep these women as healthy as possible, as the authors have pointed out. The finding that being physically active can have a significant impact on helping to protect women from heart disease is important. It is highly advisable to discuss this with overweight women and encourage them to lead active lifestyles.

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