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Obesity Interfering with Progress against Heart Disease Risk

Obesity and heart disease

Heart disease and stroke together take a greater toll on America’s health than any other condition. But we are losing the battle against this disease, partly due to our excess weight and increasing incidence of Type 2 diabetes.


Unfortunately, the cost of cardiovascular disease in the US is more than $500 billion per year. This total encompasses the cost of early death, disability, personal and family disruption, loss of income and medical care expenditures. Per the CDC, young and old, rich and poor, and all racial and ethnic groups share this burden.

Heart disease is currently the leading cause of death in the US; stroke is the third leading cause.

In 2010, several organizations came together with the goal to decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke by at least 20% before the year 2020. Unfortunately, says Dr. Stephen Sidney of Kaiser Permanente Northern California, as it stands right now, we are not going to reach our goals.

Currently, the annual death rate for heart disease has dropped – but only by 4%. Stroke rates have only dropped 5%.

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"It is likely that the dual epidemics of obesity and diabetes, which began around 1985, are the major contributors to the deceleration in the decline of cardiovascular disease, heart disease and stroke death rates," said Dr. Sidney. "If these trends continue, important public health goals, such as those set by the American Heart Association to reduce cardiovascular and stroke mortality by 20 percent from 2010 to 2020, may not be reached," he added.

The news isn’t all bad. Americans today are receiving better medical care and therefore having blood pressure and cholesterol checked more often. There are also fewer people smoking.

But we need to do more – especially when it comes to our weight.

Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, chair of the department of preventive medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, says, “The problem is they (the positive benefits of medical care) are being offset by the obesity epidemic. We can't just keep doing more of the same. We have to get serious about preventing overweight and obesity in our kids and adults."

Journal Reference:
S. Sidney et al. Recent Trends in Cardiovascular Mortality in the United States and Public Health Goals, JAMA Cardiol. 2016; doi: 10.1001/jamacardio.2016.1326

Additional Reference: HealthyPeople.Gov
Photo Credit: By ParentingPatch - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons