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Understanding cardiovascular diseases
Understanding cardiovascular diseases

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4.4 Obesity and cardiovascular diseases

Obesity and being overweight are well-known as risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. Carrying excess body fat predisposes individuals to developing elevated blood cholesterol and diabetes. You will begin to appreciate that many of the modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular diseases are interlinked. This means that influencing one, such as reducing the amount of stored lipids in the body, may have a positive effect in reducing the risk associated with high blood cholesterol levels and hypertension.

Obesity is an issue that increasingly needs to be addressed in developing countries, as well as in the developed or ‘Westernised’ world. Type 2 diabetes used to be described as a mainly adult disease, but that is changing as the incidence of obesity is increasing in young people, including children (see Figure 9 for England). This trend extends across the globe – even in countries such as Thailand and China, home to traditionally slender people. While awareness of the problem is growing, there is very limited guidance on what can be done to reverse or stem the problem.

Figure 9
Figure 9 The increase in obesity in children in England between 1995 and 2005