It is no surprise that obesity is a significant public health problem in the United States. This disease now impacts well over one third of the general population including children and adolescents.  Having obesity may hinder an individual’s quality of life and can lead to some dire health consequences, such as developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and even 20+ different cancers.  There is also evidence that it can lead to severe COVID-19 symptoms and complications.  

One of the most significant consequences on a person’s health due to obesity is the impact on the heart and circulatory system.  The havoc that the disease has on people may also contribute to increased mortality rates.  The CDC reports that one in four deaths in the U.S. each year is due to heart disease. In light of American Heart Month this February, we are raising awareness about heart health and this article will guide you through how obesity contributes to heart disease.

Change in Cholesterol Levels
Obesity is known to cause a spike in bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglyceride levels, but its health effects are more far-reaching than that. People with obesity are likely to see a drop in their good high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol as well. This is problematic for those who have obesity because it can lead to a condition called dyslipidemia. HDL cholesterol is essential for removing bad cholesterol and thus reduces the risk of heart disease. Lifestyle changes that include dietary changes as well as exercise may help curb cholesterol levels to healthy ranges. 

Spike in Blood Pressure
Obesity can cause a rise in blood pressure. People with obesity require more blood supply, oxygen, and nutrients since there is more body mass. The obesity-stricken body also requires more blood in order to move. This, alongside additional factors in the body’s circulatory system, leads to an increase in blood pressure. High blood pressure is a common cause of heart attacks and cardiac abnormalities often seen in those with obesity.

Develop Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease
High cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart attacks are not the only concerns for those with obesity. Those with obesity are much more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, and according to the American Heart Association, more than 60% of people aged 65 or more with type 2 diabetes also have heart disease. People with type 2 diabetes are already reportedly 2-4 times more likely to develop heart disease. Still, the American Heart Association says type 2 diabetes is actually one of the top controllable factors contributing to heart disease. 

The moral of the story? Weight can play a significant factor in your overall health and wellness. You don’t have to fall victim to the downfalls of being overweight or having obesity – poor cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and heart disease. In fact, you can take steps to improve your health via implementing a healthier nutrition plan and moving more every day. And you can use American Heart Health month as a motivator to kick start your program!